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How to design a yacht fit for a Queen

By Emily Smith, CNN
January 17, 2012 -- Updated 1204 GMT (2004 HKT)
The Royal Yacht Britannia, seen here in 1960, was launched by Queen Elizabeth II on 16 April 1953. The Royal Yacht Britannia, seen here in 1960, was launched by Queen Elizabeth II on 16 April 1953.
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The Royal Yacht Britannia
The Royal Yacht Britannia
The Royal Yacht Britannia
The Royal Yacht Britannia
The Royal Yacht Britannia
The Royal Yacht Britannia
The Royal Yacht Britannia
The Royal Yacht Britannia
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A UK politician has suggested the Queen should be given a new yacht to mark this year's diamond jubilee
  • CNN asked some yacht designers what they would do if they received the commission
  • Timeless, captivating and cost-savvy designs have been suggested

Editor's note: MainSail is CNN's monthly sailing show, exploring the sport of sailing, luxury travel and the latest in design and technology

(CNN) -- The British royal family has a long history with the sea. Queen Elizabeth II's much beloved Royal Yacht Britannia carried members of the monarchy on almost 1000 official voyages over 44 years, from her launch in 1953 to her decommissioning in 1997.

Her Majesty was seen wiping a tear away at the farewell ceremony for Britannia, which was launched in 1953 with a dual purpose - to provide royal travel around the Commonwealth and to act as a hospital ship in time of war.

Now UK media reports that Conservative member of parliament Michael Gove has suggested the Queen should be given a new yacht to mark this year's diamond jubilee.

What would go into designing a yacht fit for the Queen of England? We ask some yacht designers what they would do if they received the commission of a lifetime.

A "timeless" creation

"Any royal yacht is around for some time," says Ken Freviokh. "It needs to be timeless and look as good in ten years time as it did on its launch."

The yacht designer would draw on the last Britannia as a source of inspiration for a new royal yacht. He says a highlight of the vessel is its "beautiful" proportions which he would replicate for his own creation.

"It should embody the elegance of the old Britannia, but equally it could be a little bit daring," adds Freviokh. But while taking inspiration from the 125 meter yacht, the designer insists it should not be a copy.

"A new royal yacht shouldn't be conventional," he says. "But it shouldn't have any 'trendy' solutions, it needs to be quite distinguished."

Flexibility is essential for a head of state's yacht according to Freviokh. From official tours of the Commonwealth to honeymoons, the last Britannia was used for a range of activities. Freviokh would design large spaces that can be opened up when entertaining, and closed in with glass when the weather commands.

People should melt when they see it -- it should immediately send out a message.
Tony Castro, designer

"It has to be a little bit of a transformer," he continues. "The area needs to be used all year around in all temperatures, from the warm Mediterranean to the cooler northern waters near Scotland."

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It's not all business for the royals, and Freviokh says he'd take into account the more intimate occasions when creating spaces, allowing a banquet room to be converted into smaller family areas.

"People should melt"

Tony Castro wants onlookers to be captivated by any royal yacht he would design. "People should melt when they see it," the designer says. "It should immediately send out a message."

Castro would take into consideration the role a royal vessel plays when designing one. He says the boat is a great tool to promote the country and grab people's attention, whether they are heads of state, captains of industry or fundraisers. "It's a great way to get people together to sell a message -- no one could turn down an invitation to the royal yacht."

Castro says the yacht must display the best of local talent -- technically perfect so it can "show off Britain's capabilities" and modern.

But Castro says any futuristic design should not include "wacky" features. "It can't be too much about the fashion."

The cost-savvy approach

In times of austerity, questions would be raised over the cost of any new royal yacht at the expense of the taxpayers. With that in mind Stephen Huish believes he has the solution for any penny-pinching royal -- buy second-hand.

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"In the current market, it's so much cheaper to buy an existing yacht and re-fit and condition it," says Huish. He thinks a complete interior overhaul and a good paint job would suffice.

But Huish insists that does not mean that style would be compromised. "Extravagant areas could be done with more lavish woods," he explains.

"The outside should be modern but I don't think the royal family would go for a highly modern interior, it would have to be traditional," says the designer who thinks furnishing should be classic with a slight modern twist such as simple mouldings made out of wood.

Huish also highlights the need for flexibility. "I would have large VIP guest cabins where bulkheads could be cut off so it could be broken off into two or three rooms if need be."

But if the Queen did not want a pre-loved model, Huish believes there's never been a better time to commission a yacht with an industry facing tough economic challenges; the royal is more likely to get more for her pound.

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