The Queen deserves a royal yacht

First published in Peter Mullen The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

OF course the nation should provide the Queen with a new Royal Yacht. It was to our shame that Britannia was ever scrapped.

We should build the new yacht out of affection for the Queen and gratitude for the 60 years of selfless and untiringly dependable service she has given to the country.

Hundreds of formal and official visits every year and every one of them for the good of the national reputation or for charity.

The fact that this workload persists even as the Queen is in her ninth decade is nothing short of a miracle.

Talking about gratitude and affection, we should remember that in the 19th Century a public subscription was launched to create a memorial to Prince Albert, the consort of Queen Victoria. And so much money was given that out of it we built the Royal Albert Hall after the memorial had been constructed.

The cost of a new Royal Yacht is an infinitesimal fraction of the money wasted every year by any of a dozen Government departments and quangos.

Actually, a new yacht would end up making a profit for us. It would not be used solely as a means of transport for the Royal Family but as a working ship, a teaching opportunity for youngsters, a floating scientific laboratory and a tourist attraction. And it would greatly enhance national prestige.

All thriving nations lash out on projects of national prestige, and they always have done, from the pyramids of ancient Egypt to the Eiffel Tower, the skyscrapers of New York and even, once the Blairite trash had been removed, the Millennium Dome.

We British are a great and proud nation but we do display one self-destructive tendency and this is a permanent capacity for self-hatred.

We despise our own history and we are forever threatening to dismantle our finest achievements. For instance, it was only by a whisker and after a prolonged struggle that the glorious St Pancras station was preserved.

And it is not only our physical monuments which we decry: we pour contempt on our own history. So instead of remembering that it was Englishmen who abolished the slave trade, we relentlessly blame ourselves for it. We belittle our victories in the two world wars instead of remembering that these triumphs saved all Europe from Prussian militarism and Nazi dictatorship.

Self-deprecation is a fine characteristic when it comes close to humility, but it is a cancer in the body public and the death of national prestige when it degenerates into a sort of moody mean-spiritedness. Just look at how “patriotism” has become a dirty word.

We do not live by bread alone. A nation is more than its economic system, and a people counts for more than gross domestic product and the latest set of trade figures. A nation is formed out of its great institutions.

And so when we think of Britain we look to the Army and the law of the land, to our ancient universities and schools, the English church (created out of the English language) and our many thousands of charitable enterprises.

At the centre of this national framework is the monarchy: the whole idea of the nation expressed in a single person, Her Majesty the Queen. It is a stroke of genius. She is the symbol and representative of a democracy which is more than the mere counting of heads. The Queen stands for a profound sense of toleration.

Paradoxically, she does not even have a vote.


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