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Public 'should buy Queen a yacht' - Herald Sun

Written By Ivan Kolev on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 | 5:06 PM

BRITAIN-ROYALS-QUEEN-NEWMARKET

Idea floated, then sunk: Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is said to be very fond of the Royal Yacht Britannia, leading to a suggestion that taxpayers should buy her a new one. Source: AFP

BRITAIN'S government has torpedoed suggestions by a minister that taxpayers could pay for a new royal yacht to mark the Queen's diamond jubilee.

Education Minister Michael Gove made the proposal in a letter to Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt, saying the Queen's "highly significant contribution" to Britain and the Commonwealth deserved a "lasting legacy".

But a spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron ruled out the suggestion.

"On the issue of a royal yacht, clearly when it comes to the issue of public money, I don't think this would be an appropriate use of public money, given the state of the nation's finances," the spokesman told reporters.

"In the first instance, the entire question of whether or not there should be a new royal yacht is a question for the palace not the government."

The main opposition Labour party said Mr Gove was "out of touch" to think such expenditure was appropriate when school budgets were being cut as part of austerity measures brought in by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government.

The Queen was extremely fond of the Royal Yacht Britannia and was seen to shed a tear when it was decommissioned in 1997.

The ship is now permanently moored as a visitor attraction in the Scottish capital Edinburgh. Earlier this month it started to list after taking on some water, which was later pumped out.

A new yacht is likely to cost around 60 million pounds ($89 million).

But, in his letter, obtained by The Guardian, Mr Gove wrote: "In spite, and perhaps because of the austere times, the celebration should go beyond those of previous jubilees and mark the greater achievement that the diamond anniversary represents."

He writes that the Queen's "highly significant contribution" to Britain and the Commonwealth should be recognised.

"Events such as proms and the party at the palace organised for the diamond jubilee, and street parties, although excellent, are transient," he writes.

"It would be appropriate to do something that will mark the significance of this occasion with fitting ceremony.

"My suggestion would be a gift from the nation to her majesty; thinking about... (the) excellent suggestion of a royal yacht, and something tangible to commemorate this momentous occasion."

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