How Queen tried (and failed) to hire a CalMac ferry for birthday cruise
WHEN it comes to her birthday celebrations, we could forgive the Queen for wanting to splash out. But yesterday it emerged that, with the royal yacht out of service, she inquired about hiring a no-frills Caledonian MacBrayne ferry for a family holiday in the Western Isles to celebrate her 80th birthday.
The MV Hebrides normally services the Uig-Tarbert-Lochmaddy route daily, with a standard single fare of 9.60. Aside from the humdrum decor, it comes complete with cafeteria, gift shop, a children's play area and one-armed bandit.
But it seems even royalty can't always get what they want, and a request from a representative to take the vessel out of service for two weeks had to be politely refused, even though the Queen herself launched the ship at Port Glasgow in 2000.
Instead, the royal family will have to make do with a former CalMac ferry, the Hebridean Princess, which has been converted into a luxury liner - and is perhaps the one she meant to go for in the first place.
The Queen's spokeswoman would not say which companies had been approached to help the royals on their trip, which started yesterday from Islay.
However, Hugh Dan MacLennan, CalMac's public affairs manager, confirmed it had been approached but was unable to meet the royal request because the MV Hebrides was in regular use.
He told The Scotsman: "We had a request in advance from an intermediary, asking if we would consider releasing the ship for two weeks in August to accommodate the Queen for her tour. But we had to turn it down. The main difficulty is our obligation to the lifeline service. But the other issue is that the ship just does not have anything other than crew accommodation because it's not a cruise ship.
"With the best will in the world, crew accommodation is not what you would send someone on for two weeks, particularly the reigning monarch."
The royal family can take some comfort from, well, the comfort of the Hebridean Princess, which is costing the Queen a reputed 125,000 from her private funds.
Instead of a cabin with a single bunk, shower and desk, she is now enjoying a bedroom with picture window, TV, private balcony and marble-clad bathroom with gold-plated fittings. While she will miss CalMac's full Scottish breakfast, she can savour a set menu featuring scallops with a Thai green-curry sauce, guinea fowl with a herb mash and ribbons of courgette, and chocolate nemesis with crme chantilly and mint syrup.
The royal party includes the Princess Royal, her husband, Commander Tim Laurence, and her son, Peter Phillips; Lord Linley, his wife Serena, and their children, Charles and Margarita Armstrong-Jones.
The Duke of Edinburgh, princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, are expected to embark next week.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 24 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 5 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: North east