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All Posts, Seaforth

World Book Day – Brian Lavery

Read on as Brian Lavery discusses his book – Royal Yachts Under Sail.

What inspired you to write it?

I first came across royal yachts in 1953, when the new Queen was driven past our school on the way to launch the Britannia. Many years later I had the chance to work with the beautiful models and paintings of yachts in the National Maritime Museum, and later still I helped to identify a painting in one of the London galleries.

What interesting facts have you uncovered during your research?

The most interesting story, among many, is the persecution of the captain of the Mary yacht for allowing the ship carrying the Duke of York to go aground with some loss of life in 1682.

What was the hardest part about writing this book?

It was not a difficult book to write on the whole, but piecing together various bits of information to write a chapter on sailing the yachts was the hardest.

Is there a unique angle to this book and if so, what is it?

This is the first book to treat the yachts as a whole, including their uses, the people who sailed that travelled in them, and so on. It follows the practice of some of my earlier books, such as Ship of the Line, Nelson’s Navy, Anson’s Navy and so on, putting ships in their context.

What has researching this book taught you?

The book highlights many previously unnoticed facets of royal history – the Hanoverian kings’ voyages to their native land, the Prince Regent’s surprising love of sailing, and Victoria’s enthusiasm for steam yachts for example. It also shows the infrastructure which supported the yachts at Greenwich and Deptford.

What part of the book are you most proud of?

I am particularly pleased with an account by a royal servant, of his horrific time on board in 1794.

Order your copy here.