Queen Windsor, who is idolised by monarchists as a model of selfless duty, has been shown up as a greedy money grabber.
A note found in the National Archives by Philip Murphy of the University of London shows that she has yearned for a personal yacht provided at the expense of British taxpayers. The likely cost was £60m with more for running costs.
It would have replaced the Britannia, Windsor’s old yacht, which was to be taken out of service.
In 1995 her Deputy Private Secretary wrote to the Cabinet Office to say that Ms Windsor would “very much welcome” a new yacht. At the same time the official acknowledged that the reputation of the monarchy would suffer badly if it was known that she was lobbying for more taxpayers’ money to be added to the already enormous expenses of her family.
“I have deliberately taken a backseat in recent correspondence”, the secretary wrote, “since the question of whether there should be a replacement yacht is very much one for the government and since the last thing I should like to see is a newspaper headline saying ‘Queen Demands New Yacht’ “.
“I hope it is clear to all concerned” he wrote, “that this reticence on the part of the Palace in no way implies that Her Majesty is not deeply interested in the subject; on the contrary, The Queen would naturally very much welcome it if a way could be found of making available for the nation in the 21st Century the kind of service which BRITANNIA has provided for the last 43 years”.
In 2003, a Windsor spokesperson told The Sunday Telegraph that “Neither the Queen nor the Duke of Edinburgh have ever expressed an opinion on the way the issue was handled and nor would they do so”.
However, Professor Murphy said that the believed that the letter shows clearly that behind the scenes “discrete pressure” was being put on the government to do what Windsor wanted.
Ms Windsor’s supporters have not given up on helping her get a new yacht. In 2017 fifty monarchist members of parliament proposed a new national lottery to raise £120 to have a Windsor yacht built.