If you live in the UK, no doubt you’ve seen your share of headlines about the Caribbean cruise Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, a.k.a. Camilla Parker Bowles, are taking this week aboard the ultra-luxurious charter yacht Leander (above). What’s the fuss, the rest of you wonder? It’s the pains taken to convince the public that the megayacht was chosen because she’ll allow the royals to leave a smaller carbon footprint than flying from island to island. And considering climate change is among the topics the Prince will be discussing with local dignitaries, it wouldn’t be a good idea to pump excessive emissions into the air.
Leander, owned by Sir Donald Gosling, the founder of the famous National Car Parks in the UK, is a good friend of the Prince, so the yacht was a natural choice from that standpoint. But Camilla reportedly had some influence, too: She and some friends cruised aboard last summer, and according to The Daily Mail, she suggested they charter the 245-footer when the Foreign Office requested the Prince and the Duchess make an official visit to the West Indies.
So how is chartering a yacht lessening their impact on the environment? Well, by cruising from Trinidad, where they flew into yesterday to board Leander, over to Tobago, St. Lucia, Montserrat, and Jamaica, the Royals will reportedly use 40 percent less carbon dioxide than Prince Charles did eight years ago on a nearly identical itinerary. (At least that’s what their public relations team says; The Independent newspaper says the carbon-monoxide output could easily exceed that produced by flying back and forth between London and New York more than 200 times.)
Even though this is the first official royal cruise since the former royal yacht Britannia was decommissioned about ten years ago, and even though as such it’s focused on business, Camilla and Charles will have a few days of relaxation. Leander won’t disappoint: The 16-year-old megayacht features a gym and sauna, a resistance pool, a grand piano in her saloon, and a dining room for 20 with a full wall mural depicting gods drinking champagne with mermaids.
Maybe that’s why the British papers seem to be having a hard time buying the “official business” storyline. Consider this from The Daily Mail:
It would certainly be bad luck to have to overwork in the West Indies at this time of year, where the sun seems to always shine, the average temperature is 78F and the cool evening breezes, especially with a drink in one’s hand, can be so welcoming.
But even they can’t remain angry (or jealous…) for long. Consider this, from the same paper:
The trip will certainly bring the memories of the Royal Yacht Britannia flooding back to Charles, especially when local dignitaries are invited on board for drinks and refreshments. How ironic, then, that most modern of concerns, the carbon footprint, has suddenly given the Royal Family a perfect excuse to go back in time to those leisurely and stately cruising days they so miss. Whoever thought the PC brigade would ride to the rescue of the Royals?