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What will the new royal yacht look like?

When the Royal Yacht Britannia was decommissioned in 1997 as a cost-cutting measure by the British government, not everyone was ready to say farewell. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has now confirmed that a new royal yacht will be operational by 2026, with design plans due to be released around the time of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee . According to Johnson, the royal yacht will sail around the world hosting trade negotiations as part of Britain's post-Brexit plans – but what will it look like? We pitched the idea to six teams of designers...

Project Albion

Team members : Steve Gresham, Fiona Diamond, Mike Fisher, Mike Brandy, Jarkko Jamsen and James Kandsch

The design : Project Albion is a 140 metre, three-masted sailing yacht with telescopic wing sails that allow the rig to concertina into itself when at anchor or cruising under power. High-profile guests stepping aboard can make use of its two helidecks: one retractable landing pad on the starboard side that doubles as an exhibition space, and another on the bow with a helicopter hangar beneath. Alternatively, there's a hydrogen-powered royal limousine tender named Lillibet (the Queen’s familial nickname)

Star features : At the heart of the yacht sits a grand, double-height ballroom for royal gatherings. Two-storey structural glass windows on either side offer sweeping sea views –  the perfect backdrop to any royal occasion.

“Project Albion is a modern, forward-thinking sailing yacht, incorporating green features and technology, whilst maintaining a sense of grandeur and tradition”  – Fiona Diamond

Stateship Britannia

Team members : Tim Gosling, Luiz de Basto, Bart de Haan, Jerry Lakeman, Luca Scarsella

The design : The Stateship Britannia is a striking 202 metre motor yacht designed to function as a floating embassy. Split into three spaces – public, shared and private – royal yacht is able to host large-scale, international events but also serves as a private residence for royals on board. There’s a helicopter hangar that converts into an emergency hospital, which in light of recent events won't go amiss, while the portholes are deliberately positioned to read ‘2020’ in morse code, marking the year as the beginning of a new era for the royal family.

Star features : A Union Jack-printed glass funnel houses wind turbines with vertical rotors that assist the yacht’s hydrogen propulsion system.

“We want a yacht that stands out and cannot be confused with any other multi-million pound boat. It’s something different”  – Luiz de Basto

Royal Red Diamond

Team members : Frank Neubelt, Theodoros Fotiadis, Guido de Groot, Enrique Tintore, Carl Sorenson

The design : A seven-deck modern-classic with a conservative design that reflects the tradition and values of the royal family. Measuring 140 metres, Royal Red Diamond features a Neptune lounge, two helipads, a duplex royal stateroom and a swimming pool that sits between the two funnels. The motor yacht will be powered by twin Rolls Royce 5,500hp diesel-electric engines.

Star feature : A grand atrium with an imperial staircase sits aft, enclosed by structural glass, and doubles as a gallery and exhibition space.

“It’s a seven-deck world cruiser with a modern-classic style to reflect the conservative ethos of the royal house”  – Frank Neubelt

Team members : Daniel Nerhagen, Guglielmo Carrozzo, Willem Jan Kuipers, Claudio Zimarino

The design : Royal Lion takes its inspiration from the famous Cutty Sark clipper, a merchant sailing ship that used to bring tea back to Britain from China in the 1800s – with a few upgrades of course. A 180 metre sailing yacht requires some serious sail power, which comes in the form of 24 solar sails housed in four DynaRig masts, allowing the royal yacht to reach 17 to 18 knots.

Star features : A platform that opens from the transom can be used as a touch-and-go helipad for royal visits and also doubles as a party platform for state functions and social occasions.

“Royal Lion can store solar energy through the sails into high capacity batteries, which can be used for the hotel load or for manoeuvrability when coming in to port”  – Claudio Zimarino

Britannia As A Rule

Team members : Michele Dragoni, Bart Bouwhuis, Wayne Parker, Aristotelis Betsis, Kriss Hogg

The design : This modern eco-yacht is designed to be carbon neutral for a new era of eco-savvy royals. Among its credentials are solar panels, turbine tubes and a nuclear power plant by Rolls Royce. In their downtime, the royal family can make use of the yacht's electric Jet Skis, electric helicopter and there's even an electric Land Rover Defender for trips ashore. Other highlights include a dedicated "palace deck" with a royal stateroom and a helicopter hangar on the foredeck.

Star features : For those boarding the yacht via the aft, sliding glass doors on the transom open to reveal one large indoor-outdoor exhibition space.

“It’s a floating showcase of all that’s great about Great Britain”  – Bart Bouwhuis

Project Winston

Team members : Andrew Winch, Gabriel Gabie, Jenny Skoog, Sally Storey, Alejandro Hahn

The design : With the Union Jack plastered across three DynaRig masts, there’s no confusion as to which family this royal yacht belongs to. Project Winston takes its design cues from three great British symbols: the hull is inspired by an Aston Martin, the upper deck by a crown, and the sails by the Union Jack. Elsewhere, sitting proudly on the bow is a figurehead of a British bulldog, while a bejewelled royal balcony is the perfect spot from which to wave-off the evening's guests.

Star features : The sails feature an integrated LED system that showcases the Union Jack on one side and act as a virtual billboard on the other to promote the best of Britain wherever it goes.

“Greta Thunberg has already agreed to come on board”  – Jenny Skoog

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A New Royal Yacht Is Coming

  • By Phil Draper
  • January 7, 2022

Royal yacht

There are yachts, and there are superyachts, but royal yachts tend to be something else again. The United Kingdom hasn’t had a royal yacht for almost 25 years, but the British government just announced its intention to replace Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia .

No firm details have been released of what this replacement could be, but design proposals were recently invited. Time is of the essence, given that the official policy statement came with a proposed launch date just three years away.

The open brief suggests that what is needed now is less yacht, more national ship—a world-first build. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he sees the vessel as more of a floating embassy to support royals and government ministers alike.

Royal yacht

That concept is broadly familiar. During its 44-year service life as a ship of state, Britannia racked up more than 1 million nautical miles and 696 foreign visits. Every itinerary was about promoting the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, and trade promotion was always a part of the job description. For instance, Britannia made several trips to the United States, including both coasts and Chicago via the St. Lawrence Seaway. Various presidents and their wives were guests aboard, including Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

But what defines a royal yacht?

It’s not just about scale, although the eight-deck, all-steel Britannia was one of the biggest yachts in the world when it launched. It was built at Scotland’s John Brown and Co. of Clydebank, the same yard that built the ocean liners RMS Queen Elizabeth and RMS Queen Mary . Britannia entered service in January 1954, one year after Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. Her late husband, Prince Philip, was a former naval officer and enthusiastically oversaw Britannia’s specification and construction.

Royal yacht

The yacht, beyond its routine duties, could rapidly convert to a 200-bed hospital ship or an offshore refuge for the royal family in case of nuclear war. Britannia is 412 feet length overall, has a 55-foot beam and measures 5,862 gross tons. Thanks to two turbine sets producing up to 12,000 hp, Britannia was capable of a continuous 21 knots throughout its service years.

Those were the days when a yacht of that size was unusual: There are now almost 30 giga-yachts afloat with more gross tonnage than Britannia . Only a quarter of them have any obvious royal affiliations.

But in its day, Britannia was an operation to behold. The yacht was home to 21 officers and 256 sailors of the British Royal Navy and could host functions with 250 guests. The staterooms and staff quarters were aft, and the crew were forward. The yacht’s complement included a Royal Marines guard detachment in separate onboard barracks, a 26-strong military band, and a full general surgery team with an operating theater. The permanent noncommissioned crew were known affectionately as the “yotties.”

Royal yacht

Britannia was where the most senior members of the royal family stayed when on suitable official visits. It was not where they would normally spend vacations, although Prince Charles and Princess Diana famously used Britannia for a honeymoon cruise in the Mediterranean. They had the yacht’s only double bed installed aboard.

As for Britannia’s successor, various sources have quoted ballpark figures for the build in the low hundreds of millions of dollars. The final specification will depend on how much space is practical for conference and entertainment areas, the number of guest staterooms, the crew complement, helicopter use, tenders, provisions, technology, and security. Johnson also says he wants the vessel to incorporate cutting-edge green technologies and showcase best practices with regard to sustainability.

The new yacht is expected to have a service life of at least 30 years. Given that trillions of dollars’ worth of trade deals were reportedly secured aboard Britannia , the cost for that lifespan is not expected to be a concern.

Construction could start as early as next year, following consultations with the royal family, the Royal Navy and various government departments. The vessel will officially be the responsibility of the Ministry of Defense and classified as if it were a warship.

Royal yacht

Floating History

Now retired, royal yacht Britannia lies permanently in Edinburgh, Scotland. This vessel has been one of the Scottish capital’s most popular tourist draws for more than 25 years. It is open daily and sees more than 1,000 visitors a day. Guided tours take in all areas, including a view into the queen’s bedroom, private sitting rooms, state dining room and drawing rooms, sun lounge and veranda, bridge, crew decks, and engine room.

The First Royal Yacht

The wooden wheel aboard Britannia came from the only other royal yacht to bear the name, the much older 122-foot gaff-rigged cutter Britannia . Built for Prince Albert Edward, who later became King Edward VII, it was famously campaigned at big-boat

regattas by him and his son, King George V. The yacht launched in spring 1893 and was a near-sister to Valkyrie II , which unsuccessfully challenged the Nathanael Greene Herreshoff-built Vigilant for the America’s Cup that same year. Both Valkyrie II and Britannia

were designed by George Lennox Watson and built at the D&W Henderson Shipyard in Scotland. Following George V’s death and per his wishes, the vessel was stripped of its spars and fitting, and scuttled in deep water off England’s South Coast on July 10, 1936.

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Will Britain Get a New Royal Yacht Named After Prince Philip?

Britannia served as a floating palace for 43 years. since his death last week, there have been calls for a new royal yacht named after the prince., michael verdon, michael verdon's most recent stories.

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Royal Yacht Britannia was retired in 1997 and now there are calls for a new royal yacht named in honor of Prince Philip

After Prince Philip’s death last week, several British MPs and cabinet ministers are calling for a new royal yacht. The former Royal Yacht Britannia, which transported Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth on 968 state visits around the world for more than four decades, was retired in 1997. Sitting at a dock in Edinburgh, it’s one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, with more than 300,000 visitors each year.

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The call for a new royal yacht—which would be the 83rd royal vessel since the first was built for King Charles in 1660—started shortly after Royal Yacht Britannia was retired, with proponents arguing it would serve as more of a floating embassy than a luxury gigayacht. Since his death last week, the idea has gained momentum. According to The Telegraph , Prince Philip privately supported the idea, partly because of his long naval career, but also because of the 700,000 miles he had spent at sea on Britannia. The new royal yacht would be named HMY The Duke of Edinburgh in his honor.

MP Craig MacKinlay is heading a Westminster group backing the idea. “The towering figure that was the Duke of Edinburgh deserves a permanent tribute to his support for the country, the Commonwealth and the Queen,” MacKinlay said in a statement. “I can think of nothing better than a replacement for Royal Yacht Britannia bearing his name as the permanent memorial to his love of Commonwealth, Britain and the sea.”

Royal Yacht Britannia was retired in 1997 and now there are calls for a new royal yacht named in honor of Prince Philip

The new Britannia? Designer Andrew Winch’s vision of the new royal yacht.  Courtesy Winch Studios

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office, according to Downing Street insiders, called the yacht a “nice idea,” but said it would have to wait until lawmakers decide how to proceed with a new UK shipbuilding initiative that Johnson announced last year.

UK yacht designer Andrew Winch made drawings of the proposed replacement for Royal Britannia in 1997, but any notion of a new royal yacht was shelved by then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose government was involved in severe cost-cutting measures.

The 492-foot royal yacht, as envisioned by Winch, is 80 feet longer and more modern than the 412-foot, and much more ship-like Britannia, which had a crew of 271, including 21 officers and 250 Royal Yachtsmen. Winch’s office released the old drawings of the new Britannia five years ago. “Our interior configuration for Britannia allows for the greatest flexibility so that the space is suitable for many purposes,” Winch said in 2016. “The interior design is timeless and understated—a showcase for the best of British craftsmanship and design, both traditional and contemporary.”

Royal Yacht Britannia was retired in 1997 and now there are calls for a new royal yacht named in honor of Prince Philip

After traveling 1 million miles aboard the yacht for over 40 years, Queen Elizabeth is emotional at its 1997 retirement. Britannia’s clocks were stopped at 3:01 pm as the Queen stepped off the boat for the last time.  Wikipedia

Whether the yacht ever moves past being a “nice idea” into an actual build remains to be seen. Johnson, foreign secretary when the new drawings were released in 2016, said it “wasn’t a priority.”

The minister quoted by The Telegraph said the new yacht would have multiple functions.

“Britannia was built to be a hospital ship as well as a royal yacht,” he said. “Building a vast pleasure cruiser is not something that anyone is going to support. But having a symbol of the nation that can travel the world, be used by the Royal Family and have another sensible purpose such as helping young people is a better scheme.”

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The new Yacht Britannia

Boris Johnson wants a new ‘national flagship’ for Britain. Is it a good idea?

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An artist’s impression of the new national flagship yacht issued by Downing Street

What is being proposed?

In July, the Defence Secretary Ben Wallace formally announced plans for a new national flagship to “promote British businesses around the world”. Commissioned at a cost of £200m to £250m, it would be designed and built in the UK. Boris Johnson said it would reflect “the UK’s burgeoning status as a great, independent maritime trading nation”. The boat is to be a replacement for the Royal Yacht Britannia, which reached the end of its working life in 1997. The idea, first proposed in 2001, was taken up by Tory MPs in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, and has received vociferous backing from The Daily Telegraph . It was supported by Johnson after he became PM, and given the go-ahead in May. The Government said it would be used to host trade fairs, ministerial meetings and diplomatic summits. The vessel would be crewed by the Royal Navy, and is expected to be in service for about 30 years.

Why wasn’t the last one renewed?

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The Royal Yacht Britannia was in service from 1954 until 1997, a period during which it travelled more than a million nautical miles across the globe. But in 1994, the Government announced its retirement, citing the estimated £17m cost of completing a major re-fit (just seven years after the last one), which would only prolong its life by five years. In January 1997, the Conservatives promised to replace the yacht if re-elected that year, but Tony Blair’s victory spelt the end of the plan. His Labour government declined to spend public money on renewing it, citing the fact that the Queen had “made clear” that a yacht wasn’t needed for royal travel. Today, the ship is a tourist attraction in Leith, Edinburgh, with some 300,000 visitors a year.

What would a new one be like?

The details have yet to be fleshed out: the tendering process for design and construction began in July. However, the brief is to deliver “a vessel which reflects British design expertise and the latest innovations in green technology”. (Wallace said that it might have hybrid engines, or even a sail, like some modern superyachts.) The intention is to start building next year in a British shipyard, to create jobs and “help drive a renaissance in the UK’s shipbuilding industry”; at present, Britain has many top yacht designers and a thriving leisure boat industry, but most superyachts are built abroad. The yacht will have a “national security function”, too; Britannia was designed to double as a hospital ship. The ship’s name has yet to be announced: it was reported that the PM wanted to name it after the Duke of Edinburgh in tribute, but that the proposal was greeted with coolness in royal circles.

What’s the point of it?

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Advocates of the ship say it will glide gracefully into ports around the world, where it will be used to wine and dine officials, thereby smoothing the way for trade deals, defence agreements and the like. They cite the example of Britannia, which they say helped bring in an estimated £3bn of trade deals between 1991 and 1995. “The world’s top investors will fall over themselves to visit a new flagship for a new type of commercial diplomacy,” said Johnson. A report last year by the think tank the Henry Jackson Society said the yacht could help “project Britain’s image around the world”; Lord Digby Jones, the former head of the CBI, said it would give the nation a “morale boost” after the pandemic.

Is everybody convinced?

No. Labour leader Keir Starmer labelled it a “vanity yacht” and called on the PM to spend the money tackling antisocial behaviour instead; the former Tory minister Ken Clarke called it “silly populist nonsense”. Many commentators are scathing. “I don’t think the world’s most successful exporting nations – Germany, Japan, China – ever needed a floating gin palace to get the world to buy their cars, steel or smartphones,” said Sean O’Grady in The Independent : quality, price, innovation and reliability, he argued, were more important. The ship doesn’t even enjoy the backing of senior members of the royal family, The Sunday Times reported. “No one wants this vessel at the Palace,” said a royal source. Courtiers, it seems, do not want it to be presented as a new “royal yacht”, which is regarded as “too grand” a symbol for the modern monarchy. They would not use it for their personal travel or holidays – though Wallace hopes it would be used for royal visits, to “showcase the royal family as one of our exports”.

How would it be paid for?

When the idea was originally proposed, the cost was estimated at £100m and was to be covered by private donors, with no burden on the taxpayer. However, the Government has now confirmed that the ship would be paid for out of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) budget – despite insisting that it would be primarily “a trade ship”. The original invitation to tender in July put the budget at £150m. However, a week after that, it was raised to £200m-£250m. Hugo Andreae, editor of Motor Boat & Yachting , thinks that, knowing the economics of superyachts, the price will rise to around £600m – unless the national flagship is to risk being “overshadowed by a tasteless megayacht belonging to some shady despot”.

Will it actually be built?

The project reportedly drew ire from the MoD, where officials asked No. 10 what they could scrap to pay for it. Chancellor Rishi Sunak is also said to be reluctant to pay for it. Johnson , however – a fan of statement projects – is said to “love the plan”. And Wallace is on board, too. He argues that the cost is a fraction of the MoD’s £42bn annual budget, and has dismissed criticism as “basket-weaving, leftie, Islington nonsense”. He insists construction will begin as soon as next year, and it will be “in the water by 2024 or 2025”.

Royal Yacht Britannia: retired in 1997

Britannia: the original national flagship

The Royal Yacht Britannia was a symbol of British prestige, said the FT – a “glamorous nod to a lost age of naval superiority and to a different era of deference”. Built in Clydebank, Dunbartonshire, it was used for a combination of “glittering state visits, official receptions, royal honeymoons and relaxing family holidays”, according to its official website.

The ship’s first official engagement was to carry Prince Charles and Princess Anne to Malta in 1954, where they met their parents at the end of a Commonwealth tour. It was the first of 968 state voyages that the ship carried out over its 44 years of service, during which every conceivable effort was made to ensure it was as comfortable and tranquil as possible for the royals: the crew wore soft-soled plimsolls and communicated using hand signals to reduce noise. An on-board garage housed the Queen’s Rolls-Royce and a 26-strong Royal Marines band was stationed on the ship at all times.

People visiting it in Leith today will see that every clock on board has been stopped at 3.01pm – the time the Queen last disembarked following the ship’s 1997 decommissioning ceremony in Portsmouth. The Queen is said to have been at her happiest on the ship, and at that event, she famously shed a tear.


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Queen Elizabeth Cried When The Royal Yacht Britannia Was Decommissioned In 1997

The floating palace served the royal family for 44 years.

VENICE - MAY 5: Diana Princess of Wales and Charles Prince of Wales hold Prince Harry and Prince Wil...

The Crown Season 5 kicks off with a flashback of a young Queen Elizabeth II in Scotland for the launch of the Royal Yacht Britannia , just as both she and the vessel were about to venture into uncharted waters. In an obvious metaphor, the United Kingdom’s newly crowned queen expressed her hope that the Britannia would be “dependable and constant, capable of weathering any storm.” As viewers now know, the late British monarch went on to enjoy a historic reign prior to her death on Sept. 8, 2022. As for whether the Royal Yacht had as impressive of a run, here’s everything to know about Britannia’s current whereabouts and sailing status.

The new royal yacht, which was commissioned just two days before King George VI died in February 1952, was designed to travel the globe and double as a wartime hospital ship. In light of the King’s declining health before his death, it was also intended to be a cruising convalescent residence for the ailing royal. As portrayed in the Netflix series, the Britannia launched from a Clydebank, Scotland shipyard in April 1953.

For the next 44 years, the yacht would serve as a royal residence for Queen Elizabeth, who welcomed aboard such world leaders as Sir Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Ronald Reagan, and Rajiv Gandhi, among others, for various state dinners. Meanwhile, other members of the Royal Family over the years used Britannia for such purposes as family holidays and honeymoons. Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones were the first newlyweds to honeymoon on the yacht in 1960, and Prince Charles and Princess Diana later famously spent their 1981 honeymoon on a Mediterranean cruise aboard the yacht. According to Town & Country , the crew managed to duck the press so efficiently that the Britannia earned the nickname “the ghost ship.”

Royal Yacht Britannia which is moored up alongside HMS Albion in Edinburgh. Picture date: Friday Jun...

Outside of the vessel’s recreational uses, the Yacht also played a role in some major historic events. When a civil war broke out in South Yemen in January 1986, for example, the Britannia, as a non-combatant Royal Navy ship, was allowed to enter territorial waters to rescue trapped British nationals without inflaming the conflict.

After traveling more than one million nautical miles, former Prime Minister Tony Blair decommissioned the Britannia in 1997. The ship became the last of 83 Royal Yachts, a tradition dating back to Charles II’s reign in the 1660s. “Looking back over forty-four years we can all reflect with pride and gratitude upon this great ship which has served the country, the Royal Navy and my family with such distinction,” said the Queen, who was photographed publicly shedding tears at the ceremony. All of the ship’s clocks remain stopped at 3:01, the exact time that she disembarked for the last time.

Now, the Britannia is located in Edinburgh and serves as a tourist attraction and exclusive events venue. Visitors can explore each of the five decks of Queen Elizabeth’s “floating palace” during hours that it’s open to the public. Meanwhile, the yacht is also available for private tours and exclusive use, as it is available to rent for birthdays, anniversaries, corporate events, etc. For the first time, Britannia will also host a “Royal New Year” party for ticketholders to ring in 2023 aboard the historic yacht.

current royal yacht uk

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The Royal Yacht Britannia Has a Fascinating History—Here's Everything You Should Know

It doesn't get more majestic than Queen Elizabeth II's yacht.

“Britannia is special for a number of reasons,” Prince Phillip once said. “Almost every previous sovereign has been responsible for building a church, a castle, a palace or just a house. The only comparable structure in the present reign is Britannia. As such she is a splendid example of contemporary British design and technology.”

Although she retired from service in 1997, today the Britannia, one of many of the world's grandest yachts , is docked in Edinburgh, where she is open as a visitors’ attraction and host of private events. Below we give you all the Royal Yacht Britannia facts you might want to know, from who owns the yacht now to why she was decommissioned to how fast she is to how to get tickets to visit. Britannia was, after all, the one place the queen said she could “truly relax,” so why not see why for yourself?

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Royal Yacht Britania Facts and History

On February 4, 1952, John Brown & Co shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland, received the order from the Admiralty to build a new Royal Yacht to travel the globe and double as a hospital ship in times of war, according to the royal yacht's website . King George VI passed away two days after, sadly, and so on April 16, 1953, the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II announced the yacht’s new name as the ship was revealed.

"I name this ship Britannia,” she said. “I wish success to her and all who sail in her." Britannia was commissioned into the Royal Navy in January 1954 and by April of that year sailed into her first overseas port: Grand Harbour, Malta.

royal yacht britannia facts staircase

The queen and The Duke of Edinburgh worked with interior designer Sir Hugh Casson for the ship to serve as both a functional Royal Navy vessel and an elegant royal residence. Queen Elizabeth II selected deep blue for Britannia’s hull, instead of the more traditional black. Its Naval crew included 220 Yachtsmen, 20 officers, and three season officers—plus a Royal Marines Band of 26 men during Royal Tours.

All of them might have had to change uniform up to six times a day, so the laundry service on board worked nonstop. The yacht also engaged in British overseas trade missions known as Sea Days and made an estimated £3 billion for the Exchequer between 1991 and 1995 alone.

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The ship’s wheel was taken from King Edward VII’s racing yacht, also named Britannia, according to Boat International , and the 126-meter ship could reach speeds of 22.75 knots, or a seagoing cruising speed of 21 knots, according to Super Yacht Times . Other fun facts: The yacht could produce her own fresh water from sea water, and shouting was forbidden aboard to preserve tranquility, favoring hand signals for Naval orders instead.

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Over the next 44 years, the Britannia would sail the equivalent of once around the world for each year, in total visiting 600 ports in 135 countries. Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones were the first of four couples to honeymoon on the ship in 1960, gifting them all privacy to sail to secluded locations. Prince Charles and Princess Diana followed in 1981 on the Mediterranean as well as Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips before them in 1973 in the Caribbean and Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson in 1986 in the Azores.

diana and william

For family vacations aboard the ship, games, treasure hunts, plays, and picnics were organized, and on warm days the children could play in an inflatable paddling pool on the Verandah Deck.

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In the Sun Lounge, the queen especially enjoyed taking breakfast and afternoon tea with views through large picture windows, a space you can see replicated in the TV show The Crown. Although no filming took place on board the Britannia for the show, researchers ensured scenes aboard it were accurate. In the queen’s bedroom, the resemblance is seen down to the decorative wall light fittings and embroidered silk panel above her bed that had been specially commissioned.

queen crying at britannia

In 1997, the ship was decommissioned after the government decided the costs to refit it would be too great. On its final day in her service that followed a farewell tour around the U.K., the queen openly wept as the Band of HM Royal Marines played "Highland Cathedral."

"Looking back over 44 years we can all reflect with pride and gratitude upon this great ship which has served the country, the Royal Navy and my family with such distinction," Queen Elizabeth II said. All clocks on the ship stopped at 15:01, the exact time the Queen disembarked from the yacht for the final time, and they would remain at that time until the present.

royal yacht britannia facts clock

How to Tour the Royal Yacht Britania

Today the yacht is owned by Royal Yacht Britannia Trus t, and all revenue it generates goes to the yacht’s maintenance and preservation. Ticketed entry allows you to step into state rooms like the Sun Lounge, the State Dining Room and State Drawing Room, in addition to the working side of the ship in the Crew’s Quarters, Laundry and gleaming Engine Room. Along the way you will see original artifacts from the shop—95 percent of which is on loan from The Royal Collection.

the royal yacht britannia

How to Visit the Royal Britania

You can visit the Britannia any day of the year on Edinburgh’s waterfront. Hours vary by season, and you can find them listed and purchase tickets on the yacht’s website . Private tours are also available, and you can visit the Royal Deck Tearoom, where the Royal Family hosted cocktail parties and receptions, for drinks, meals and scones. Additionally, the Britannia hosts special ticketed events for New Year’s and other occasions, and event spaces can be booked as well.

While you are in Edinburgh, you can also stay on the Fingal , a neighboring yacht-turned-floating-hotel, which is a seven-minute walk from the Britannia, and dine at its Lighthouse Restaurant & Bar, which serves breakfast, afternoon tea, dinner, and cocktails.

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Step aboard the royal yacht britannia.

Please pre-book your tickets to guarantee admission. Start your tour at our entrance on the Ground Floor of Ocean Terminal.

A great day out for all the family, explore each of the five decks at this top attraction in Edinburgh and discover what life was like on board Queen Elizabeth II's former floating palace. 

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Pre-book your tickets to visit The Royal Yacht Britannia, top attraction in Leith.

A family group of a woman and a man with a little boy and a little girl are enjoying cakes and tea sitting at a table in the Royal Deck Tearoom.

Homemade soups, sandwiches and cakes, along with speciality teas and coffees.

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Find souvenirs and gifts from Britannia's online Gift Shop.

A family group of two adults and two children listen to audio tour handsets next to the Binnacle on the Verandah Deck.

Apply for 12 months' free admission after your first visit.

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Stay at our luxury floating hotel, Fingal, Tripadvisor's No1. UK Luxury Hotel, AA Hotel of the Year Scotland.

Visiting Britannia


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Click on the Visit page  for more information before you visit.

Step aboard to enjoy a great day out!

Fingal Hotel

Get away from the everyday aboard Britannia’s sister ship, Fingal.  Extend your visit with a stay in one of Fingal’s luxurious cabins, your own oasis by the sea. 

TRIPADVISOR'S NO.1 UK LUXURY HOTEL TRIPADVISOR'S NO.1 UK SMALL & BOUTIQUE HOTEL AA Hotel of the Year Scotland, AA five-star hotel and 2 AA Rosettes

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Plans for £250 million royal yacht to promote post-Brexit Britain scrapped

  • Westminster
  • Monday 7 November 2022 at 4:08pm

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Plans to build a new royal yacht to drive post-Brexit trade deals have been scrapped with immediate effect.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told MPs in the Commons on Monday he has terminated competition to build the flagship.

The project was launched by Boris Johnson's government in May 2021 as a way to "promote the best of British", and the vessel was expected to cost the taxpayer £250 million.

The then prime minister said it would show off "the UK's burgeoning status as a great, independent maritime trading nation" after Brexit.

It would have been the first national flagship since the Royal Yacht Britannia, which was decommissioned in 1997.

But as chancellor Jeremy Hunt prepares to make up to £35 billion in spending cuts on 17 November, the national flagship plan was sunk by Rishi Sunak's administration.

The ship was going to be named after the late Prince Philip and would have been used to host trade fairs, ministerial summits and diplomatic talks.

But it has faced criticism from MPs at a time when there are other priorities for defence spending.

It was expected to be constructed in the UK and take to the water in 2024 or 2025, and would have toured the world as a “floating embassy”.

Mr Wallace told MPs he was prioritising the procurement of the multi-role ocean surveillance ship (MROSS) instead of the flagship.

“In the face of the Russian illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and Putin’s reckless disregard of international arrangements designed to keep world order, it is right that we prioritise delivering capabilities which safeguard our national infrastructure,” he said.

That meant he had “also directed the termination of the national flagship competition with immediate effect to bring forward the first MROSS ship in its place”. Mr Wallace told MPs the MROSS would “protect sensitive defence infrastructure and civil infrastructure” and “improve our ability to detect threats to the seabed and cables”. Shadow defence secretary John Healey welcomed the news that the “previous prime minister’s vanity project” has been scrapped and the spending switched to “purposes that will help defend the country”.

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The Daily Telegraph, which has been campaigning for a replacement for Britannia, reported the two private consortia bidding for the work were told on Monday morning that the project is being axed. The Commons Defence Committee warned in 2021 there was “no evidence of the advantage to the Royal Navy of acquiring the national flagship”.

It added the initial expenditure of around £250 million, combined with the £20–30 million a year running costs and providing a crew, would pile extra pressure on the senior service.

I visited the Royal Yacht Britannia, the royal family's luxurious private cruise ship known as a 'floating palace.' Take a look inside.

  • The Royal Yacht Britannia was the royal family's private yacht from 1953 to 1997.
  • The ship is now a museum open to the public in Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • The tour shows the Queen's bedroom, state rooms used for entertaining, and crew bunks.

The Royal Yacht Britannia was the royal family's private yacht from 1953 to 1997.

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With its many royal family vacations and official tours, the yacht logged over 1 million miles , the equivalent of one trip around the world for each of its 44 years at sea.

The Queen once said that "Britannia is the one place where I can truly relax."

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The Labour government decommissioned the ship in 1997 due to its high operation cost of £11 million each year, Reuters reported . That's equivalent to about $23 million today.

At the decommissioning ceremony, the Queen  shed a rare public tear .

The ship has made several appearances in Netflix's "The Crown," including season five .

The yacht is now a museum open to the public in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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On a recent trip to Scotland , I booked a ticket for the Royal Yacht Britannia museum, which costs £18.50 ($23) for adults.

The entrance is located inside the Ocean Terminal shopping center in Edinburgh.

Before boarding the yacht, visitors walk through a museum detailing the boat's history and connection to the royal family.

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The five-story ship was a royal residence as well as a Royal Navy ship, with a full-time staff of more than 240 royal yachtsmen and officers.

The museum displays photos of the royal family's life aboard the ship, as well as items like crew uniforms.

Then, a walkway with more photos leads to the deck of the boat.

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The ship is docked on the water just outside the shopping center.

I listened to the audio tour of the ship on my phone by scanning a QR code.

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There were also separate listening devices available.

Each room of the ship had a number that you could type in and press "play" to hear about your surroundings in an array of languages.

The first stop was the bridge, the main control point of the yacht.

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In this small space, officers navigated the seas and recorded data in the ship's logbooks.

Outside, the flag deck is the highest point on the ship.

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Britannia had three masts, and different flags were used to communicate with other ships on the water.

The admiral's cabin and suite is the most spacious on the ship, aside from the royal apartments.

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The admiral's accommodations featured a day room, bedroom, bathroom, and pantry. The sofa and armchairs in the dayroom are over 100 years old and came from the previous royal yacht, Victoria and Albert III.

The royal family often sunbathed, played deck hockey, or swam in a collapsible swimming pool on the Veranda Deck.

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Part of the yacht's royal quarters, the deck was also used for receptions and group photos.

Prince Philip occasionally set up his easel on the deck to paint.

Overlooking the Veranda Deck, the Sun Lounge was one of the Queen's favorite rooms on the ship.

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Queen Elizabeth would often take her breakfast and afternoon tea in the Sun Lounge.

The Queen's bedroom on the Royal Yacht Britannia featured bed linens that once belonged to Queen Victoria.

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The embroidered silk panel above the Queen's bed, commissioned in 1953, cost £450 ($560, or $6,250 in today's money).

Her sheets were embossed with "HM The Queen."

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip had separate bedrooms connected by an adjoining door.

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Each room had its own bathroom.

Philip's bedroom featured red linens, and he requested pillowcases without lace trim.

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A button next to each of their beds would summon a royal steward.

Across the hall, the Honeymoon Suite was the only room onboard with a double bed.

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The double bed was requested by then-Prince Charles when he honeymooned with Princess Diana in 1981.

The room was also used as a nursery when the royal children were young.

The Anteroom served as a recreational space for the officers, off-limits to the rest of the crew.

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Officers would spend their time here listening to the radio and playing board games.

The royal family occasionally dined in the adjoining Wardroom.

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Britannia's 19 officers ate meals here, accompanied by the Royal Marines Band.

Britannia has three galleys, which are still working kitchens today.

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The galleys prepare food for the Royal Deck Tea Room and events hosted on the ship.

The Royal Deck Tea Room offers an extensive menu of soups, sandwiches, scones, and other treats for visitors to the museum.

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The royal family once used the space to entertain guests and play deck games.

The state dining room is the largest room on the Royal Yacht Britannia.

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Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Nelson Mandela, and many other world leaders dined here with the royal family.

The placement of each utensil was measured with a ruler.

Just off the state dining room, the Queen's sitting room served as her office.

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Here, the Queen would meet with her press secretaries and prepare for royal visits.

On the opposite side of the hall, the Duke of Edinburgh had his own sitting room.

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Both Philip and Charles used the room as a study. Philip kept a model of his first naval command, the HMS Magpie, above his desk.

The telephones connecting the sitting rooms to each other and their private secretaries' offices are identical to the phones used in Buckingham Palace.

The large Drawing Room and connecting Anteroom could accommodate up to 250 guests.

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The Drawing Room featured an electric fireplace and cozy floral furniture. When it wasn't being used as a reception space during formal events, the royal family used it to relax and play games on the card tables.

Petty officers and Royal Marine sergeants kicked back in their living quarters, also known as the mess.

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Petty officers would occasionally entertain the Queen and other royal family members here.

The crew bunks weren't as glamorous as the royal apartments.

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Each bunk folded up into a seat, and crew members stored their possessions in lockers.

Britannia's NAAFI (Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes) shop sold souvenirs and sweets, as well as essentials like toothpaste.

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Diana once bought Prince William a Britannia souvenir shirt from the shop. Today, it sells homemade fudge to museum guests.

The ship's sick bay and operating theater still feature the original furnishings from the 1950s.

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The ship's doctor attended to crew members, while the Queen's royal surgeon traveled with her on voyages.

Britannia's laundry room could reach temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit as it washed up to 600 shirts in one day.

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The royal family's laundry was done on different days than the crew's laundry.

All of the clocks onboard the Royal Yacht Britannia are stopped at 3:01 p.m.

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The clocks are frozen at the  time the Queen stepped off the ship for the last time  during its decommissioning ceremony in December 1997.

The tour concludes in a gift shop full of royal souvenirs.

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Amid the Britannia-themed mugs, pens, and aprons, the gift shop also sold replicas of royal jewelry.

There's even a photo-op at the end of the tour where you can practice your royal wave.

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The tour was full of surprising facts about royal life and travels, and I couldn't believe that we actually got to see inside Queen Elizabeth's bedroom on the ship. It's definitely worth a visit.

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Flagship royal yacht scrapped as government spending cuts loom in autumn statement

Ben Wallace told the Commons he has terminated the competition to build the £200m vessel ahead of the 17 November statement from the chancellor.

Political reporter @NifS

Monday 7 November 2022 18:19, UK

Handout image issued by 10 Downing Street showing an artist's impression of a new national flagship, the successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said will promote British trade and industry around the world. Issue date: Sunday May 30, 2021.

A contentious plan to build a new royal yacht has been scrapped, the defence secretary has confirmed.

The successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia, which was expected to cost around £200m, was announced by Boris Johnson in May 2021 .

Mr Johnson, the prime minister at the time, said it would reflect "the UK's burgeoning status as a great, independent maritime trading nation" after Brexit.

The flagship was going to be named after the late Duke of Edinburgh , and used to host trade fairs, ministerial summits and diplomatic talks as the UK sought to build links and boost exports.

Speaking in the Commons today, Ben Wallace, whose department was due to fund the project , told MPs he was prioritising the procurement of the multirole ocean surveillance ship (MROSS) instead and had cancelled the competition to build the boat.

"In the face of the Russian illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and Putin's reckless disregard of international arrangements designed to keep world order, it is right that we prioritise delivering capabilities which safeguard our national infrastructure," he said.

The building of the multimillion-pound vessel had been heavily criticised by MPs and peers over whether it was value for money, especially after the public purse had been squeezed during the pandemic.

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Last year, the Commons Defence Committee warned there was "no evidence of the advantage to the Royal Navy of acquiring the national flagship" and that the price tag, as well as running costs, would add to the pressure on the service.

Shadow defence secretary John Healey welcomed the scrapping of the "previous prime minister's vanity project" and that spending was being given to "purposes that will help defend the country".

Its cancellation comes ahead of an autumn statement on 17 November , in which Rishi Sunak, the prime minister, and Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor are expected to announce a raft of spending cuts to fill in the £60bn black hole in the public finances.

The pair have been tight-lipped about what other measures will be introduced, and whether commitments such as the pensions triple lock will be kept in place.

Both have promised the announcements will be "compassionate" to those most in need.

Asked about the prime minister's perspective of scrapping the boat, Mr Sunak's official spokesman said he "thinks it is right to prioritise at a time when difficult spending decisions need to be made" and "finances are tight".

Mr Wallace told MPs he would hold talks with Mr Sunak and Mr Hunt this week in an attempt to secure funding to "protect our armed forces and our current plans from inflation" in the upcoming statement.

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A Labour Victory: What Does it Mean for the UK Residential Property Market?

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The Labour Party has won the 2024 general election with a forecast majority of around 170 seats.

However, while its victory is broad, it is also shallow, as veteran pollster Sir John Curtice explains .

So, what should the property market expect in the first six months of a Labour administration?

One general point to make is that a combination of inexperience and instinctive caution means the new government is unlikely to make big decisions quickly.

There will be no mini-Budget moment, avoiding the type of adverse reaction on financial markets and spike in mortgage rates seen after Liz Truss took power in September 2022. There has been minimal reaction on markets so far, which had expected a Labour victory.

We will get a clearer sense of its plans in the autumn Budget once the Office for Budget Responsibility has examined its numbers. An even fuller picture will emerge at the spring Budget in 2025. Until then, we will have to rely on what Labour says to anticipate what its victory means for the UK housing market.

You can see what all the main parties said about housing during the election campaign here , but how might Labour’s plans take shape now they are in government?

Stamp Duty, House Prices, and Transaction Volumes

Labour has said the nil rate band for stamp duty will revert to £300,000 from the current temporary level of £425,000 in April next year, which is probably not the news first-time buyers will want to hear. The Tories had planned to make the tax break permanent.

On the other hand, Labour has said it will make it easier to secure a deposit under a so-called Freedom to Buy scheme . It would essentially be an extension or rebrand of a plan started under the Conservatives so unlikely to boost demand in a meaningful way.

The Labour manifesto also said overseas buyers will pay an extra 1% stamp duty surcharge, highlighting the tightrope they will be walking between attracting and deterring overseas capital as it seeks to be a government of wealth creation.

Neither pledge on its own is likely to have a significant impact on transaction volumes or property prices. For a better understanding of what will happen in the UK housing market during the second half of this year, it will be more useful to study the next inflation data on 17 July and whether it signals a rate cut sooner rather than later, as explored here .

Conclusion: What happens next to mortgage rates will have a bigger impact on the UK housing market in 2024 than Labour’s previously announced changes to stamp duty or a rebadged mortgage guarantee scheme.

The balancing act between attracting and deterring wealth will be equally tricky when it comes to the issue of non-doms – the 68,800 individuals living in the UK who are non-domiciled and don’t pay tax on their worldwide income.

We know the old system will be replaced but not much more.

For example, there was no detail in the Labour manifesto about the number of years individuals would be exempt from paying tax on their worldwide income under the new regime. Nor was there much detail around how inheritance tax (IHT) would be charged on overseas trusts. To backdate any new IHT legislation would be unusually punitive and logistically complex.

“New legislation could appear in the Finance Bill in March 2025 ready to take effect from 6 April 2025,” said James Quarmby, a partner in the private wealth team at law firm Stephenson Harwood who expects Labour’s first Budget to be in October. “However, the inheritance tax position, particularly relating to trusts, is a really difficult nut to crack in such a short time-frame, so there is every chance this will get pushed back until 2026.”

Quarmby believes Labour won’t want to scare wealthy individuals from the country.

“Irrespective of what politicians say during an election campaign, being in government is completely different and I expect a Labour government to proceed with caution. There will be scope to finesse the non-dom legislation so that it broadly meets their campaign promises, but at the same time remains business-friendly," he said.

In relation to the non-dom rules more generally, Nimesh Shah, chief executive of tax advisory specialist Blick Rothenberg, said: “There has been more backlash than expected, and there is a suggestion that Labour may be willing to engage on a new policy approach, which could mean the introduction of the new regime being delayed. However, we don’t know Labour’s appetite on improving the current proposals, which are a real mess and need a lot of work.”

Conclusion: Keep an eye on the small print and timing, new non-dom rules are far from set in stone.


Politicians from all sides routinely over-estimate their ability to influence the numbers of houses built in the UK, and this election campaign was no exception. Labour has said it plans to deliver 1.5 million over the course of the next Parliament.

Housebuilding is largely demand-led, which is driven by economic cycles not the bandwidth in the planning system. Despite the rhetoric, the government doesn’t build houses.

Labour has indicated it will take early action to change the National Planning Policy Framework and restore housing targets. Such a shift in emphasis will be welcomed by developers but it doesn’t alter the fact private housebuilders deliver homes according to demand and at a price set by the second-hand market.

My colleague Oliver Knight will explore the party’s plans for the housebuilding sector, including the use of the greenbelt land, in more detail next week. For now, here is why he thinks delivering 1.5 million homes is unlikely .

Conclusion: Political ambition and economic reality will clash, with only one winner.

Renter’s Reform

This is another area with the potential for a clash between what is politically desirable and economically possible.

The risk for the lettings market is the introduction of policies that make it too financially punitive to become or remain a landlord, which could result in more owners selling up and higher rents.

The Labour Party will revive the abandoned Renter’s Reform Bill in some form and had previously said it would end no-fault evictions “on its first day in power”.

In an encouraging sign the party understands the picture is more nuanced, Angela Rayner recently told LBC: “That’s a simplistic way of looking at it. We also need to ensure the courts system is working and that we’ve got a fair balance between landlords and renters.”

Labour has also pledged to end so-called bidding wars, a policy based on the assumption that high demand and low supply is a permanent feature of the lettings market. As we are currently seeing at the higher-value end of the London market, rising supply means asking rents are rarely met at the moment.

Our latest rental value forecasts are here but the numbers could rise if economics takes a back seat.

Labour also appears to be adopting a more pragmatic approach to leasehold reform, rowing back on earlier plans to abolish the leasehold system in its first 100 days. How far and fast it goes will be dictated by how much of a priority the issue is.

Conclusion: Landlords and tenants will be hoping for new legislation that is as balanced as Angela Rayner’s recent comments. Unambiguously ruling out measures such as rent controls would help.

Other Taxes

While Labour has ruled out a formal “Wealth Tax”, revenue will be raised in other ways. We know private schools will be charged VAT (probably from September 2025), with the election campaign having turned into a game of Labour ruling out or refusing to rule out a list of other tax rises.

Capital Gains Tax (CGT) is one they have not ruled out increasing, in a potential further deterrent for landlords. However, they have said they will not apply CGT to primary residences.

Some expect to see CGT changes in the first Labour Budget, but others don’t.

“I'm not expecting a CGT rise this Autumn or anytime soon,” said James Quarmby. “Mainly because Labour front benchers have been saying 'there are no plans to raise CGT' in dozens of interviews. If the first thing they do when elected is to raise CGT, then it will look like they have been dishonest when campaigning. That would not be wise, even with a big majority.”

He also believes the final shape of new rules on private equity profits will be less punitive than originally expected.

Changes to inheritance tax have not been ruled out.

Conclusion: Nobody knows what Labour will do in its first Budget, but the party could lose credibility by going too far, too fast given what it has said about tax rises and the importance of wealth creation.

The Bigger Picture

The Labour Party has come into power at a fortunate moment in some ways, says Savvas Savouri, chief economist at QuantMetriks.

“Labour is inheriting an economy with building momentum. One not justifying a base rate cut but allowing the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) to cut its deficit forecasts and so warrant looser fiscal policy,” he said.

In other words, an improving economy might temper the need for tax rises.

While stubborn services inflation means the scope for a rate cut is more limited than thought at the start of the year, we are likely to see at least one cut of 0.25% before December, which will increase downwards pressure on mortgage rates after the summer. This would have provided a boost to the housing market irrespective of who won the election.

Labour’s victory also needs to be seen in the context of what is taking place in France and the US, said Savouri.

For example, elections in those two countries could strengthen the pound, which has implications for overseas investors in UK property, as we explore here .

Another outcome, particularly in light of the election result in France, is that a new UK government could agree improved relations with the EU.

“The EU has desperately needed a reason to get on better trade and travel terms with the UK,” said Savouri, pointing to a deal that could see a smoother relationship without the need to rejoin.

“If the Brexit deal that exists was the cause of the pound going down, just imagine what Sterling will do after such a renegotiation.”

Conclusion: An improving UK economic outlook and political change overseas could be a case of good timing for the Labour government.

Further reading

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The Royal Society

Why nature matters: biodiversity in the UK

This Primer provides an accessible introduction to the ways in which humanity connects with and depends on nature.

It puts this into the context of the UK and discusses some of the risks that observed declines in the populations of many UK species might have for some of our social and economic objectives. It ends with discussion of how the principles of nature-based solutions of protect, restore, manage and create might apply to the UK. It is not intended as a comprehensive overview of what we do and do not know about nature but rather something that will help readers to make sense of current policy discussions around nature and biodiversity.

Climate change and biodiversity

Human activities are changing the climate. Science can help us understand what we are doing to habitats and the climate, but also find solutions.

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