As the House of Commons paid tribute to His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh last Monday, North Wiltshire MP James Gray joined his parliamentary colleagues in sharing some cherished memories of the Duke. During his speech, Mr Gray particularly highlighted the Duke’s commitment to seafarers:

“For 42 years, the Duke was Master of Henry VIII’s great foundation, Trinity House, the true home of seafarers and shipping, lighthouses and pilotage, of which I am honoured to be a Younger Brother. The Duke was always a seafarer at heart. He understood the sea, and his commitment to all things maritime is absolutely legendary. He even helped to design the Royal Yacht Britannia, so a fitting legacy might be a new multi-purpose royal yacht, perhaps named “Philip, Duke of Edinburgh”. How fitting that would be”.

Mr Gray has now further put his name to a joint letter calling upon the Government to undertake a full cost benefit analysis of such a vessel to replace the previous Royal Yacht. The letter, published in the Sunday Telegraph yesterday, states that:

“There has long been a clear economic case for a replacement to the Royal Yacht Britannia in pure trade terms as an asset to unlock international trade deals post-Brexit, showcase the UK and provide an appropriate vessel for the Royal Family.

The sad loss of His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh gives added impetus as the nation looks for a lasting memorial to his life that encompasses his interests and legacy to the nation. We consider a replacement ship with a multi-faceted role as a training ship, trade platform, humanitarian vessel, mobile Embassy and Royal Yacht, proudly made in the UK and bearing his name, would be a fitting legacy.

Estimates of cost are in the region of £190m. Putting this into perspective this amounts to 1/2000th of the cost, to date, of the Covid pandemic. We appreciate that the public purse has huge demands upon it and so other innovative funding streams including the private sector and public subscription should also be considered, but let us first cross the rubicon and agree that such a flagship, to complement the new Aircraft Carriers, is a project of national worth and the funding can be considered later.

In the meantime we call upon the Government to undertake a full cost benefit analysis of such a vessel to replace that which should never have bee lost upon the demise of the previous Royal Yacht”.