Prince Philip: Lord Lamont ‘treasures’ Duke of Edinburgh letter over Royal Yacht Britannia mix-up
Conservative former chancellor Lord Lamont of Lerwick has told how he still treasures a pithy letter he received from Prince Philip after seeking to clear up an apparent misunderstanding over the Royal Yacht Britannia.
The Tory grandee recounted the anecdote as peers paid tributes at Westminster to the Duke of Edinburgh, following his death.
It was in 1994, under John Major’s government, when it was announced the royal yacht would be decommissioned – a year after Norman now Lord Lamont left the Cabinet.
The vessel, now berthed in Edinburgh, finally left service in 1997 after travelling more than a million nautical miles and in an uncommon display of public emotion, the Queen was pictured at the time wiping away tears.
Speaking in the upper chamber, Lord Lamont said: “Gyles Brandreth (royal biographer and former MP) in his diaries wrote that the duke told him that I was the obstacle to renewing the life of the Royal Yacht Britannia.
“I was horrified, that was not correct and I took the liberty of writing to His Royal Highness to say so.
“I received a typically short, to the point, vintage two-sentence letter which I treasure.
“‘Dear Lamont, I have no recollection of saying any such thing to Brandreth. How would I know what you thought?'”
The vessel is now is now a five-star visitor attraction and prior to the Covid-19 pandemic was visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.
The most recent attempt to revive the idea of a replacement came in 2017, when 50 MPs suggested launching a new national lottery to help raise £120 million for the project.
In his tribute to Philip at Westminster, Lord Lamont also hailed his “remarkable lifetime of service and unstinting support for Her Majesty”.
Highlighting the duke’s turbulent childhood and upbringing, the Tory peer said: “It seems somewhat improbable that a man with such an unstable, shifting background could have contributed so much to the stability and shaping of the modern monarchy.
“But he did exactly that. Going from royal outsider to pillar of the nation.
“It was his steadfast partnership with Her Majesty for which we are profoundly grateful. It became a constant in our national life, earned respect for our country throughout the world and set a standard for duty, which will inspire us all.”