The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) is deeply saddened by the loss of our Patron, Her Majesty The Queen. Our thoughts and condolences are with The Princess Royal, RYA President, and the entire Royal Family.
Known for her sense of duty and her devotion to a life of service, Her Majesty The Queen has been an important figurehead for the UK and the Commonwealth. She has ruled for longer than any other Monarch in British history, becoming a much loved and respected figure across the globe.
In 1948, Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh were listed as new members of the RYA (known then as the Yacht Racing Association). It became the Royal Yachting Association in 1952 when Sir Ralph Gore, then President, spoke of “Her Majesty’s recent command that the name of the Association will in future be the Royal Yachting Association.” He had written to the Home Secretary at the time, asking him kindly to convey to Her Majesty “our great appreciation of this command”.
The Royal Family has a long history of seafaring. Over the centuries the Monarchy has sailed aboard 83 royal yachts, including the most recent, HMY Britannia, which often hosted the RYA Council meetings during Cowes Week.
In addition to her diplomatic duties on royal tours, HMY Britannia was also a vessel for family holidays. During the summer months, the Royal Family would often take off on what became known as the aptly named Western Isles tour, cruising around Scotland. The tour often included a stop off at the Castle of Mey to visit The Queen Mother before berthing in Aberdeen so that Her Majesty The Queen could travel to her favourite summer home, Balmoral.
With so many fond memories around the yacht, Her Majesty The Queen officially took her leave of it in 1997 and the vessel was placed in the port of Leith in Scotland, where it serves as a floating museum and events venue. All of the clocks on board remain stopped at 3:01, the exact time that Her Majesty disembarked for the last time.
In 1948, Bluebottle was presented to Her Majesty The Queen (then HRH Princess Elizabeth) and HRH Prince Philip as a wedding present from the Island Sailing Club of Cowes, Isle of Wight. Bluebottle is the only British Dragon to have won an Olympic medal, picking up a bronze at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.
Chris Preston, Chair of the Royal Yachting Association, today said: “Like so many around the world, we are deeply saddened at the loss of Her Majesty The Queen. Her patronages and charities have covered a wide range of issues, from opportunities for young people, to the preservation of wildlife and the environment. It was an honour for the RYA to host Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh on a trip to Cowes in 2012, where they were introduced to a number of young OnBoard sailors who were enjoying the opportunity to try sailing and windsurfing.
“Having Her Majesty as Royal Patron, alongside the support of her husband HRH The Duke of Edinburgh as former RYA President and her daughter The Princess Royal as our current President, has undoubtedly helped us to raise awareness of our aims to increase participation in boating, to promote safety afloat and to raise sailing standards. Her Majesty will be sorely missed and we offer our deepest condolences to our President, The Princess Royal, and her family.”