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Don’t buy HM a yacht. It’ll ruin the surprise

Don’t buy HM a yacht. It’ll ruin the surprise
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Don’t buy HM a yacht. It’ll ruin the surprise 1

Fundraising | Celina Ribeiro | 29 May 2012

The campaign to raise £60m to buy HM The Queen “and her charities” a yacht for the Diamond Jubilee is a waste of philanthropy and bad-present-giving practice, says Celina Ribeiro.

I’ve cancelled my holiday leave for the Diamond Jubilee weekend, so I’m probably just all-round bitter. It could well be the fact that I am hanging about Blighty for the four-day weekend that makes me believe that is a waste of money and time. It could be, but I don’t think so, because getting the public to each throw in a few quid to buy the Queen a yacht for her anniversary is a waste of money and time.

The first, most obvious issue at play is: why are we telling the Queen what we’re getting her, guys? You’re ruining the surprise. Imagine the awkwardness when, come the big moment, we get HM to cover her eyes and sneakily moor a yacht nearby and she is forced to pretend she didn’t know what’s coming. It’s destined to be an anti-climax.

Now this gift is planned to be shared by the Queen and the 600 charities of which she is patron. The second worst thing about giving a gift is to expect that the recipient is not going to use it. With 600 charities potentially lined up to try to host fundraising galas on said super yacht – and keeping in mind that there are typically only 365 days in a year – we can suspect two things: that these charities will likely get to use this yacht maybe once every two years; secondly, that the Queen may well barely get a look in.  

So look, I am an Antipodean republican. But I’m all for Union Jack bunting, street parties, patriotic merchandising and flotillas on the Thames. I’m in. That stuff is all super great.

I just think that the Queen probably doesn’t need a yacht to be thanked for her service to the Commonwealth. The castles, the tax receipts, the jewellery, the pre-existing sea vehicles probably suffice in material terms. I’d expect that millions of people turning up to cheer your cavalcade as you pass would feel pretty rewarding.

Elaine Skinner, chief exec of giveonthemobile and the Jubilee Yacht Appeal Director, said, “A Diamond Jubilee Yacht dedicated to HM The Queen and her charities would be a celebration of her achievements, a beacon of hope and a reminder of what we can achieve as a nation when we all pull together.”

I’m not sure about that. If the country rallied together this year and raised an additional £60m for our other elderly people, all of its citizens who perhaps have not delivered quite the scope of national service as the Queen but who were also not born into the role, in order to raise their standards of living, now that would be a beacon of hope and a reminder of what we can achieve as a nation united.

To have a country in which all 86-year-olds live in dignity I think would be quite a gift to the Queen, and her subjects to boot.

The Jubilee Yacht Appeal is offering punters to text 'NOT' (as opposed to YACHT) to donate to the Queen's charities rather than the Queen's yacht. However, I'll be doing the former for the above reasons and because £60m seems rather steep for a yacht. This Norman Foster-designed 'super yacht' went for a neat $24m and it looks perfectly nice. 

Jo Wood
29 May 2012

I thought this must be a delayed April Fool story when I read it.

Of course the Queen doesn't need a yacht, and I'm sure that if she wanted one, she could afford to buy one.

Even if the scheme succeeded, how many charities could afford to run the yacht even supposing they could justify the expenditure ?

I'm sure that we could all think of better ways to spend £60,000 let alone £60 million.

My cynical side wonders if the proposers of this appeal are seeking an 'honour' for their efforts.

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Celina Ribeiro

Celina Ribeiro is the commissioning editor of Fundraising Magazine and contributor to Civil Society News.

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