The design is as bold as it is breathtaking. From a distance, this ship might resemble the spectacular square-rigged star of a saltwater period drama like Hornblower or The Onedin Line.
But the closer you look, the more you realize that this is quite unlike anything else that has ever graced the high seas before.
After all, how many square-riggers are designed to accommodate a mini-submarine, a helicopter, two buses, 100 bicycles, an underwater laboratory — and a sovereign?
Here, for the first time, is an artist’s impression of the ship that could be the future flagship of the UK. Following on from where the beloved Britannia left off, this masterpiece — still unnamed — would fulfill all the functions of the late Royal Yacht and many more besides.
Two weeks ago, the Daily Mail announced a new campaign to build a 21st-century successor to Britannia. This would need to be more than just an ocean-going embassy and royal residence. It would have a thriving commercial, educational and scientific role — and pay its way. And it is an idea that is already gathering plenty of momentum.
The Mail is the first to admit that the idea of a new Britannia is shamelessly romantic — especially in such a dire economic climate. Yet, it is one based on common sense and hard financial reality.
For several years, some of the finest maritime minds have been sharing their expertise to develop a brilliant scheme that is as practical as it is attractive. Codenamed FSP21 (Future Ship Project 21st Century), this great vessel would be built in the UK. But its £80 million construction cost would not be financed by the British taxpayer.