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Issue 54 - Royal Return

Whisky Magazine Issue 54
March 2006


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Royal Return

On the Queen's yacht,Michael Jackson is back in Leith and heading for Islay

An invitation to dinner on the Royal Yacht. That's what it says. I wonder, is she still royal? The yacht, I mean, not the Queen Even if the Queen were not the world's most experienced practitioner of the position, she would still be royal; that goes with the territory. In fact, no one is more regal. Yachts, on the other hand, I have always found confusing. In children's spelling books, ‘Y' is for yacht, an odd-looking word for a vessel of a simple shape.

Yachts always look serene in drawings, paintings and designs on bathroom curtains – but they're extraordinarily uncomfortable when their crews have to hang from the sides, bums extended, human counterweights against the elements that drive the sail. I don't suppose the Queen and Prince Philip even considered doing that. It would have been decidedly unregal.

Realising that a yacht does not have to be wind-powered, and may benefit from engines (in this case, a couple of oil-fired steam turbines), must be like walking through a warm rain of precipitant pennies (from heaven).

Once the drachma has dropped, you can go ahead and build a floating version of a summer palace.

The yacht in question is about 100 metres long, and at sea accommodated a total of about 300 crew and royal household. Its chintzy furniture and furnishings and eau-denil walls seemed to me timelessly traditional, but structural curves and bevels added a touch of Art Deco. As yachts go (and it made voyages to almost 1,000 corners of an Old Empire turning i...

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