Christmas came early for the Queen, when it was revealed this week that a friendly tycoon left her $96 million in his will for a new yacht.
Like you do.
In one of the most unexpected news stories of the year, the Queen has reportedly been bequeathed a sizeable lump sum to go towards a new Royal Yacht Britannia.
She’s been seething since the last one was decommissioned in 1997 to save money and it recently emerged she tearfully petitioned for another, although acknowledged it wouldn’t look good if it were made public.
Currently it’s not clear if she will accept the windfall, when full details are revealed of the will of Sir Donald Gosling, whose memorial took place on Wednesday.
Donald, who passed away in September aged 90, was an ex-Navy man and long-time friend of the royals, who was passionate about sailing and equally furious the Queen had lost her beloved vessel. It’s now a floating attraction in Edinburgh, so I suppose she could pop on the poop deck whenever she’s in town.
Donald subsequently lent the family his luxury yacht, the Leander, and started a whip round among British business people for a royal yacht. There is a current proposal to build a new Britannia that doubles as a hospital ship (as the last did), with supporters stating it’s a floating national symbol of pride.
But even so, giving The Queen $96 million is, as they say, like carrying coals to Newcastle, or selling ice to Eskimos. If she really, really wanted a new yacht she could always do something drastic like flog a tiara or cut off Prince Andrew’s pocket money.
But it was up to Donald what he did with his cash – and he had plenty of it, having made his fortune in carparks – even if that decision was to give it to the Queen, instead of hospitals, schools, charities and so on. He did, it should be noted, donate around $191 million to charity over the years. And I wonder if his yacht scheme floats the boat of his two sons.
But it got me thinking what other windfalls the Queen might look for – and who else could donate some of their treasures.
Sir Elton John, for example, could find a good home for his sequined suits when he’s done with them. HRH likes a bit of razzle dazzle. And we all know Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex could put his private jet to some use, because, oops, they did that already.
Posh and Becks could bung them one of their Beckingham Palaces – the original in Hertfordshire sold for $22 million in 2014, and the family now has a Cotswolds bolthole, which would go down well with Harry and Meghan who had to leave theirs over security concerns.
While we are crowd-funding, perhaps the Waterhouses could chuck them a racehorse or two and Richard Branson could off-load Necker Island – one can’t ever have enough Caribbean getaways.
In the spirit of “flight shame”, the Windsors could sail there on their new yacht, Greta Thunberg style. Granted, a floating palace probably doesn’t work as well as a pedalo on a carbon cost per usage, but it’s something. Not a yacht, but a little.