Quote....... HMY Victoria and Albert III

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

HMY Victoria and Albert III a Royal Yacht of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom. She was launched in 1899 but was not ready for service until 1901. Queen Victoria had lobbied Parliament for many years for a more modern yacht - HMY Victoria and Albert dated from 1855, and won this expenditure after pointing out that both the Russian Tsar and the German Kaiser both had larger and more modern yachts than Great Britain. Unfortunately she died seven months before the launch. The total cost of the ship was £572,000 (five-sevenths the cost of the battleship HMS Renown). This is the third yacht to be named 'Victoria and Albert' and was fitted with steam engines. Built at Pembroke Dock Wales and launched in 1899, it measured 380 feet in length by 40 feet in the beam with a tonnage of 4700. The yacht was used regularly up until the World War II when it was laid up and used as an accommodation ship in Portsmouth harbour. The Victoria and Albert III was finally sold in 1954 for breaking at Faslane, Scotland.

Victoria and Albert III served four sovereigns, and took part in two fleet reviews (in 1935 and the Coronation Review of the Fleet, 1937), but was withdrawn after the latter and decommissioned in 1939. She served as a depot ship during World War II, as an accommodation ship to HMS Excellent, and was broken up in 1954.

Although there were plans for a new yacht to be built these were suspended due to the outbreak of World War II. Eventually Britannia replaced her in 1954. Unquote

Now a poem:


I know an old man called Tugg*
who has asked me to give him a plug
and because he's my pal
and works for an admiral
I couldn't help agreeing
and hence the following screening.

An admiral you say?
from whom Tugg draws his pay?
yes, but not just one of the sea
but an admiral who drove a ship just for roy-al-ty.

Not guessed it  ? - Britannia, you should try
and the man ?, why non other than FORY
whose lovely garden needs tending and weeding
so in comes Tugg for watering and feeding

I would use Tugg for my own gardening needs
his skills are legendary and he provides all his own seeds
but his charges are such
that only an admiral can afford that much.

* P E Willson ex RN Chief Sparker

This erstwhile FORY [Flag Officer Royal Yachts - plural, because we used to have more than one in commission at any given time, and now because of mean politicians, not even one] has kindly given Tugg a couple of interesting naval photographs which are worthy of showing [somewhere] on the internet and Tugg has loaned them to me for that purpose.

Click to enlarge


This first picture shows the Victoria and Albert III in her build-shed at Pembroke Dock on the 9th May 1899 ready to be launched.  If you look carefully you can see her stern and her rudder very clearly and high above it, her White Ensign.  The general water scene shows two empty boats/barges [obviously ready to be used for an emergency] and two boats [one, to the right as viewed, of the launching shed and one well over to the left of the picture] with security personnel embarked.  The Royal Barge, which has a crew of 16 {14 oarsmen seated on thwarts, a junior officer {a lieutenant} and a first class petty officer behind the backboard aft}, and seven passengers sitting in the stern sheets,  is under way [modern navy]/under weigh [old navy], with both the ensign and the bow flag duly affected. The oarsmen are at rest with their oars out resting on the rowlocks.   The senior male person present in the barge was HRH The Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught [1850-1942], the 7th child of Queen Victoria and 3rd son, and known to be her favourite son. He had two elder brothers, the eldest HRH Prince Albert Victor [known as Prince Eddy] {after whom the Albert Memorial Chapel at Windsor is named} The Duke of Clarence, would have been King Albert after King Edward VII, but he died in 1892 [seven years before this event], was, according to Olivia Bond in her book "The Royal Way of Death" {ISBN 0094654301}, a frequent companion of male prostitutes and a regular visitor to male brothels.  Believe it or not, this man {?} was engaged to the lovely Princess May, who eventually married the Duke of Connaught's next eldest brother HRH Prince George, a profoundly different and thoroughly decent man.  Prince George and Princess May later became King George V and Queen Mary [of Teck], but before being so, they were their Royal Highness's the The Duke and Duchess of York - exactly the same happened to the next Duke and Duchess of York when King Edward VIII abdicated - they became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.  She, HRH Princess May Duchess of York, as the wife of a Prince [George] senior to Prince Arthur, was the senior person present in the barge, and was therefore said to be accompanied by the Duke of Connaught.  Like all launchings, she, as a lady, would do the necessary, not by breaking a bottle, but by cutting a rope as told in the files below - note at this time in our history Queen Victoria was still alive so the Duchess and her husband were technically some way away from becoming the King and Queen after HM King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra had had their turn.  Why wasn't HRH The Duchess of Connaught [1860-1917]  present with her husband, or for that matter, the Duke of York with his wife? History doesn't tell us why, but the D of C was a very popular royal [and beautiful with it - a Diana of her day] and one assumes she was busy fulfilling the requirements of her own diary. Other dignitaries were present in the barge [five in total] but they are not important for our purposes. However, it would have been nice to have known the name of the FORY at that time or any of the dignitaries who were members of the crew of the new Yacht.  If you know the answer please let me know and I will add the details here. Thank you.

Her international radio callsign was GFUR.

The flag flying forward, is a Standard and the Personal Standard of TRH [Their Royal Highnesses] The Duke and Duchess of York  The light and angle of the  Personal Standard is such that only the top white horizontal bar shows correctly, but it was a bright, vibrant and multi coloured Standard which I have researched and shown here. To help you to understand more fully and thus to enjoy the story, the following pdf file shows you the Personal Standard in its true colours and the zooming tool of the file will allow you to zoom in on the barge and its forward flag.  You will be able to make out the top white horizontal stripe [known as the white label] with its three points or pendants [white boxes below evenly spaced, some bearing motifs whilst others are left blank] which denote children of the sovereign* ; in the middle a row of 'dots' which trace an arc from bottom right to top left through the central heraldic shield and the horizontal bars of the shield itself can be seen, and in the bottom left quadrant, the vague outline of the harp. DUKE OF YORK'S PERSONAL STANDARD.pdf   It is fascinating that such a bland picture can tell such a colourful story. Now click on the following thumbnail to see what the bunting might have looked like had colour photography been used. Click to enlarge * For grandchildren of the sovereign there are five such points or pendants except for HRH Prince William who retains the three.

This little snippet comes from the New York Times VICTORIA and ALBERT III.pdf

At the time of the Coronation of The Queen's father, King George VI, in 1937, the existing Royal yacht, the Victoria and Albert III, looked more like a floating museum than a working ship. Its hull and machinery was gradually deteriorating and the crew's quarters were cramped and uncomfortable. It was clear that the yacht was not meeting the necessary requirements, and that even extensive repairs and alterations would only increase its life span for a few years.

In his role as Head of the Commonwealth, and in the days before air travel was commonplace, the King needed a Royal Yacht for long distance travel, so he announced plans for a new ship which could also be converted into a hospital ship in wartime. The new yacht was to be called Britannia and she joined the Royal Navy proper in 1954.  Britannia served for forty three years and apart from HMS Victory herself, was the longest continuously serving warship in the Royal Navy. She was finally paid off at Portsmouth on the 11th of December 1997 with a tearful Sovereign [and no doubt a tearful FORY and crew] witnessing the last Beat Retreat and the ceremonial lowering of the Yachts Standards.

Click to enlarge


This picture is just a nice to have [or nice to see] historic naval photograph. It is not part of my story, except that it is very Royal and as such of great interest. First note the coxswain behind the backboard aft of the stern sheets and compare him with the coxswain in the picture above. One is in square-rig and one in fore and aft rig.  The four known passengers in the stern sheets are Their Majesties King George V and Queen Mary with their children Edward, the next in line to the Throne as King Edward VIII, and the Princess Mary The Princess Royal,  either approaching or shoving off from terra firma or a ship's side. The period is believed to be about 1911 shortly after his father's [King Edward VII] death when Edward would have been 17 [and dressed as a midshipman] and Mary would have been 14. The tossing of oars is not what one might expect from yachties [Royal Yachtsmen]. The stroke [first oarsmen] have it right, with upright oars and both men are using their outboard hands to hold their oars; the next pair have skew-whiff  oars but their hands are correctly applied, but the third pair have both skew-whiff oars and the port side man is hold his oar with his inboard hand - tut tut!  The rating holding the boat hook is either a 1st class petty officer [cross hooks and a crown above them] or a 2nd class petty officer [single killick with a crown above] but it is difficult to ascertain from his stance.

Royal Yachts Victoria and Albert II and III, by courtesy of Tenby Museum and Art Gallery.

Victoria and Albert II and III, two generations of Royal Yachts, at Pembroke Dock in 1899.


Finally, a titbit, building upon the story in the New York times of 1900.

Much more calamitous was the accident to the new royal yacht Victoria and Albert in the winter of 1900, an event which seriously damaged the professional reputation of Pembroke Dockyard and ruined the career of the ship’s designer, the Director of Naval Construction, Sir William White.

The 380-foot steel yacht was laid down in December 1897 as a replacement for the veteran paddle yacht of the same name which had been built at Pembroke Dockyard nearly fifty years earlier. The new vessel, the last ship to be launched from Pembroke Yard in Queen Victoria’s reign, was launched by the Duchess of York (later Queen Mary) on 9 May 1899.

After her engines and boilers had been installed and her masts stepped under the sheerlegs at Hobbs’ Point, the berth had to be vacated for fitting out the new cruiser HMS Spartiate. As there was no other jetty (Pembroke’s limitations again!), the yacht was put into dry dock for completion. This was not an unusual proceeding but it led to disaster.

The completed yacht was to be floated out of the dock at dawn on 3 January 1900. As the dock flooded the ship slipped to starboard off her blocks aft with a list of eight degrees to port. ‘The Marine guard immediately sounded the bugle call’ and all ports and scuttles were closed.(45)

The caisson could not be secured at high tide allowing much of the water to escape, leaving the ship unsupported, despite the efforts of the Dockyard fire brigade pumps. Sir William White, summoned from London, arrived at 2 am on ‘the bleak dock-side and saw the beautiful thing heeled over with naptha flares burning all round, a host of men climbing over her and shouting angrily’. He felt the hostility in the air but was generous in his praise of the emergency measures which had been taken. ‘It is not possible for me to over- state the value of the prompt and skillful action of the Dockyard officers’, he wrote, ‘to which we owe the rescue of the vessel from a dangerous position.’ (46)

The yacht was safe and watertight with damage limited to an 8-inch dent running over twenty-five feet amidships. She was ballasted with 200 tons of water and 105 tons of pig iron before the next tide, when she was floated out with a ten degree list and taken to a buoy where, on 4 January, Sir William conducted stability tests using a team of 475 men rushing from side to side.

There was a subsequent furore in Press and Parliament. An enquiry presided over by Mr G.J. Goschen, First Lord of the Admiralty, reported on 29 April. The accident was due ‘not to a single error or miscalculation in the general design but to an excess in weight and equipment [771 tons] distributed over a number of items’. In short, the ship was top heavy. (47) Sir William was formally censured by the Admiralty and retired a broken man. (48)

What follows are a few photographs of the Royals in this period:-

Click to enlarge

HRH The Duke of York in earlier times 1884

Click to enlarge

Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught with his parents Queen Victoria and Price Albert with the Duke of Wellington 1851

Click to enlarge

Princess May Duchess of York to become Queen Mary 1890

Click to enlarge

Prince Edward, King Edward VIII with Queen Victoria, Queen Alexandra and his mother Princess May Duchess of York 1894