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Royal Yachts Under Sail (Hardback)

Colour Books Maritime > Naval Maritime > Seaforth Publishing P&S History > By Century > 17th Century P&S History > By Century > 18th Century P&S History > By Century > 19th Century Photographic Books

By Brian Lavery
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 160
Illustrations: 100 colour & 25 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399092913
Published: 16th November 2022


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From the time of the Restoration of Charles II, when he returned to England from Breda and was presented with the yacht Mary by the burgomaster of Amsterdam, Royal yachts began to be defined as such in England and built with that special purpose in mind. They were built luxuriously and used for royal visits to the fleet, for diplomacy and for racing and cruising for pleasure.

Charles II took more of an interest in the sea than any other English monarch. He built a fleet of royal yachts, fine examples of ship design and decorative art, and he can be said to have been the father of yachting and of royal yachts. His successors were less keen on the sea but travelled to Europe on missions of peace and war; and royal yachts took part in regime change several times. In 1689 Queen Mary was bought over to join her husband William of Orange and complete the ‘Glorious Revolution’. In 1714 George I arrived from Hanover to establish a new dynasty. And in 1814, in a reverse process, King Louis XVIII was taken back to France to restore the monarchy after the defeat of Napoleon.

This important new book is the first to describe the building and decoration of the yachts in such detail, using many newly discovered sources; and it is the first to describe their uses and exploits, often taking their royal passengers into controversy or danger. Besides the yachts themselves, it reveals much about the character of the kings, queens and princes involved – the impetuousness of the future William IV for example, or his brother George IV’s surprising love of sailing. It describes the design, accommodation, and sailing of the yachts, as well as their captains and crews.

Sailing yachts came to an end when Queen Victoria discovered that steam power was more efficient as well as more comfortable, but they revived in the form of her son Edward’s cutter Britannia, and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Bloodhound and Coweslip. Their legacy can be seen in the widespread sport of yachting today, and in the lavish superyachts of billionaires.

This beautifully illustrated book, full of anecdote and containing detailed descriptions of dozens of royal yachts, will fascinate naval historians, ship modellers and, indeed, anyone who sets foot aboard the deck of a modern yacht.

Brian Lavery is arguably the most knowledgeable scholar of English ships of the Age of Sail. This new book is a tour de force of that encyclopedic knowledge and thorough research. It is, however, a book for specialists who are interested in delving quite deeply into the minutiae of these small, fast, luxury craft.

The meat of the book for model builders is the 14-page section that covers the design, internal accommodations, and external decoration of the early yachts. Along with the text there are illustrations of ship plans, drawings, and photographs of contemporary models to help guide any builder who wants to scratch build a yacht or improve one of the available kits.

It is the illustrations which are the best part of the book. Seaforth Publishing has lived up to its reputation for excellent production values. There are dozens of crisp, vibrant reproductions of drawings and paintings by marine artists including the Van de Veldes, Isaac Sailmaker, and others.

Overall, I recommend this book for the maritime historian with an interest in these beautiful, elegant, and luxuriously decorated small craft.

Nautical Research Journal Volume 68 (2023)

"This book is minutely researched, with huge detail on the ships, the personalities and the key voyages made by various royal and high status guests, but is written in an approachable style, and with a trove of wonderful images. It all goes to make the book an excellent Christmas present for anyone with an interest in British Maritime History."

South West Soundings, South West Maritime History Society

I enjoyed this book, and its wonderful illustrations hugely.

Read the Full Review Here

Naval Review

This lavish production gives every indication of being a labour of love by the author and this shines through both the illustrations and the text. But at the same time it retains the very highest of scholarship with a huge amount of detail and a quite exceptional bibliography. Full of little-known stories and tales as well as excellent technical construction and layout information, it can be thoroughly recommended to all.

The Mariner's Mirror - The International Quarterly Journal of the Society For Nautical Research - Volume 109:3, August 2023

Featured in

The Swale Smack and Sailing Barge Match - Kentish Sail Association

As featured in

Ships Monthly - July 2023

Is it really ever necessary to write a review about any book written by Brian Lavery? This is a large format, glossy-paged book with copious illustrations that is a joy to hold and peruse. Written with Lavery's usual attention to detail, in his clear and informative style with an extensive bibliography.

Fascinating. Highly recommended.

The Kedge Anchor, The Magazine of the 10805 Club

The book is a magnificent way to progress through English history and shows how inextricably the monarchy was linked to the sea. A comprehensive look at all aspects of royal yachts, there are sections on the crew, designs, decorative work, and sailing qualities of the yachts. Beautifully published with some stunning illustrations, many of them paintings from the Royal Collection, this book is a delight.

Warship World

This is a fascinating book if you're into learning about boat building, with much talk about plans, ease of building, standards of building and work. This book was a fascinating read I have enjoyed reading and would easily please anyone who loves to read about early sailing or model makers.

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The History Fella

I really enjoyed this book. The amount of information is astounding, with the bibliography running to four pages of two columns, in very small print. The pictures are lovely, and it can either be read in sequence or dipped into to find specific information.

5 out of 5

Read the Full Review Here

Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

About Brian Lavery

BRIAN LAVERY is the bestselling author of more than thirty books on maritime history including the highly successful Nelson’s Navy and Empire of the Seas. He was for many years senior curator at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, and he served on the advisory committee that dealt with the most famous preserved ship in the world, HMS Victory. His recent title, Anson's Navy, has just been published by Seaforth.

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