This week’s photograph is of HMY Victoria and Albert:This royal yacht was the predecessor of HMY Britannia and served from 1901 throughout the reigns of Edward VII, George V and George VI. Built at Pembroke Dock and launched in 1899, she was completed in the summer 1901, seven months after the death of Queen Victoria.
The vessel measured 380 feet (120 m) in length by 40 feet (12 m) in the beam with a tonnage of 4,700. She was powered by Belleville water boilers, which exhausted through two elegant round funnels:The ship had a particularly elegant prow, reminiscent of late Victorian sloops, the curves implying an impressive turn of speed:The total cost of the ship was £572,000, five-sevenths the cost of the battleship HMS Renown. During fitting-out the yacht had significant extra weight added including concrete ballast and even a large traditional capstan so the Queen could be entertained by watching the sailors work. This extra weight proved to be beyond the original design parameters and resulted in the ship tipping over when the dock was flooded – causing significant damage to the ship.
Victoria and Albert was commissioned at Portsmouth 23 July 1901 by Commodore the Hon. Hedworth Lambton, who hoisted his broad pennant. Nearly all the ship’s company of 230 men of the old HMY Victoria and Albert II were transferred to the new yacht, which with an additional 100 men had a total ship’s company of 336.
King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra visited their new yacht in early August 1901, and used it for the first time when crossing the English Channel 9 August 1901 to attend the funeral in Germany of the King’s sister, Empress Frederick.
King Edward later used the yacht for summer cruises most years of his reign, visiting various countries in Europe.
Victoria and Albert later served King George V, King Edward VIII and King George VI, and took part in two fleet reviews (in 1935 and the Coronation Review of the Fleet, 1937), but was withdrawn after the latter and decommissioned in 1939. She served as a depot ship during the Second World War; as an accommodation ship to HMS Excellent, and was broken up in 1954. In this painting from the National Maritime Museum we see the old yacht being towed away to the breakers, passing her replacement HMY Britannia:Apparently the officer in charge of HMY Victoria and Albert on this voyage went out to salute the new yacht, and promptly fell through the deck as it was so rotten!