Tory royal yacht anger

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The Independent Online
The Government is coming under pressure to clarify the future of the royal yacht Britannia.

A senior Government source has confirmed that proposals to refit or replace the vessel have been abandoned in a decision taken jointly with the Queen. The news provoked outrage among Tories, who were equally angry at the way the decision became public through "leaks".

The Prime Minister refused to take questions on the yacht as he arrived in Brighton on Friday for the Labour Party conference. But the shadow defence secretary, Sir George Young, called on the Defence Secretary, George Robertson, to confirm the position officially.

The decision on Britannia is clearly a result of the Queen's acceptance that a royal yacht is an anachronism for a modern Royal Family.

A Government source said the Treasury could not escape the fact that either a refitted Britannia or a new vessel would cost pounds 12m a year to run. The source said: "From our point of view, it was about saving money, but I think they [Buckingham Palace] were relieved about it."