The letter was leaked to the Guardian newspaper, leading the Prime Minister to initially hole the suggestion below the waterline. All sailors will know that leaks are bad for ships. Then, following an approach which outlines plans for a 600 foot, four masted multipurpose sailing ship (sail training, scientific research and with state rooms for her Majesty and retinue at the stern), David Cameron has today supported the plans. As long as it doesn't cost the taxpayer.
Might we suggest that we already have a set of plans, funds coming in (another £500 today, thank you), a builder in the blocks ready to start and a ship with a pedigree and some experience in honouring Royalty.
In July 1820 the newly launched HMS Beagle had the honour of being the first ship to sail under the new London Bridge leading a fleet review to mark the coronation of King George IV. Perhaps Her Majesty might find Beagle's stern cabin somewhat cramped, and it would be remiss of us to expect Royalty to indulge in the gymnastics required of the young Charles Darwin in wriggling his way into his hammock for the first time (oh for a time machine to have seen that moment). As Darwin wrote in his diary:
I intend sleeping in my hammock.- I did so last night & experienced the most ludicrous difficulty in getting into it. My fault of jockeyship was in trying to put my legs in first. The hammock being suspended I thus only succeeded in pushing it away without making any progress in inserting my own body.- The correct method is to sit accurately in centre of bed, then give yourself a dexterous twist & your head & feet come into their respective places.
But for a ship to take the nation's youth sail training, to take its scientists over the horizon, whose building would add excitement to the Olympic year and that of the Queen's Golden Jubilee?
It could only be our very own Beagle. She changed the world. Nothing less would add lustre to 2012.
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