June marks HRH Queen Elizabeth II’s 95th official birthday and 2022 will see the commemorations of 70 years since her coronation, celebrating the Platinum Jubilee of her reign. This month at the LRF Heritage & Education Centre, the theme is ‘Floating Palaces and Royalty’, so we thought we could use this blog to talk about the direct British royal connections to Lloyd’s Register (LR).
The late HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War and had a lifelong passion for the sea. This in turn led to his work with Lloyd’s Register, becoming the first honorary member of the General Committee on the 16th May 1960.
The Duke of Edinburgh first visited LR’s London Headquarters in December 1958. The historic visit marked the first time a Royal had visited 71 Fenchurch Street in over 50 years. The Duke was shown several LR treasures, including the oldest surviving Register Book from 1764 and a selection of documents for Gothic (launched 1947), Shaw Savills passenger cargo liner chartered for use as the Royal Yacht for part of the Queen and Prince Philip’s 1954 Commonwealth Tour.
The Prince also toured HQ and was shown ship plans held by the Technical Records department. Philip was presented with plans for a variety of vessels, from typical passenger ships to oil tankers. The Duke was particularly intrigued about LR’s amendments to one of the plans, even asking if an LR Surveyor could design a ship that wouldn’t require any amendments upon submission for plan approval.
Prince Philip’s interest and knowledge of LR’s work was a massive hit with staff. Employees recalled the Prince’s ease of manner and ‘his knowledge on abstruse subjects of whose existence even the most well-informed layman might be expected to be forgivably ignorant’.
Another royal visit in 1972! Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip attended the reopening of the newly refurbished headquarters building. The royal couple were presented with a silver model of the Royal Yacht Britannia, which remained in the service of Queen Elizabeth II from 1954 until 1997. As you can see from the images below, this gift was enthusiastically received by Prince Philip! The model was originally kept onboard Britannia in the large Reception area and then moved to Prince Philip’s private sitting room once the yacht was decommissioned. Fun fact, whenever he was interviewed on television you could see the model displayed on a cabinet behind him!
The model of Britannia is now held by the Royal Collections Trust for safe keeping.
HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, also followed in Prince Philip’s footsteps, becoming an honorary member of the Society’s General Committee in November 1977 and visiting Lloyd’s Register’s HQ. Please enjoy these various exerts from the February 1978 edition of our internal publication, Society, to see Prince Charles chatting with staff and touring the building as his father had done 18 years previously.
During his visit, Charles also took a look at the computerised interactive graphic equipment used for analysing and classifying ship and offshore structures. Staff remember he commented his fascination with what he saw and thought he spent far too little time visiting the office.
The royals not only had direct involvement with the organisation but LR even classified some of their royal yachts!
HMY Britannia, a gaff-rigged cutter built in 1893, was commissioned for Royal Yacht Squadron Commodore Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII. It was built at the D&W Henderson shipyard at Partick on the River Clyde and cost a total of £8,300.
Britannia was launched on 20 April 1893 and joined a fleet of first-class cutters. The yacht served both Edward and his son King George V with a long racing career. In a highly competitive fleet, Britannia eventually established her as the most successful cutter yacht that had been raced in European waters. By the end of her first year, Britannia had scored 33 wins from 43 starts. In her second season, she won all seven races on the French Riviera, and then beat the 1893 America’s Cup defender Vigilant!
After the death of King Edward VII in 1910, HMY Britannia was inherited by King George V.
Although HMY Britannia was the oldest yacht on the circuit, regular updates to her rig and outfit kept her a most successful racer throughout the 1920s and she also came into class with LR. In 1931, she was converted to the J class with a Bermuda rig. The last race of her career was at Cowes in 1935. She won a total of 231 races over her lengthy 42-year career!
King George V’s dying wish was for his beloved yacht to follow him to the grave. On 10th July 1936, after Britannia had been stripped of her spars, masts and fittings, her hull was towed out to St Catherine’s Deep near the Isle of Wight, and she was sunk by HMS Winchester.
There you have it, some great connections between the British Monarchy and LR, both sharing a universal love for the sea!