I WAS surprised and not a little irritated that the sad demise of Prince Philip inspired some Conservative MPs to propose that a new royal yacht should be commissioned and named after the late prince. The estimated cost would be £190 million. Scotland would be asked to pay a share.

I seem to recall that an almost bankrupted Great Britain acquiesced to a new royal yacht being built in the early 1950s. Any adverse opinion, and there was some, was soon silenced by the fact that the proposed ship was designed so that it could be almost instantly converted to a hospital ship to support our military servicemen should the need for one ever arise.

The one and only time a dedicated hospital ship was needed during the Britannia’s lifetime was when the Falklands War took place. The royal yacht was hastily deemed unsuitable and the SS Uganda was leased to do the job at no little expense.

The elegant but ageing yacht became too expensive to maintain as a pleasure cruiser and was decommissioned in 1997.

I recall seeing her predecessor, HMY Victoria and Albert III, being broken up in a shipyard in Rhu on the Gairloch in 1956 and thinking then that such an elegant vessel ought to be preserved for posterity.

Prince Philip’s opinion on the fate of the Britannia was that it should not be preserved but towed out mid-ocean and scuttled.

His opinion was ignored and we all know now that it was laudably saved and is a popular tourist attraction in Scotland, where it is moored at Leith. Prince Philip was keen to preserve the dining table from the yacht. This was arranged, and a replacement installed.

Prince Philip also requested that the “Captains’s Launch” should have its engine removed so that no-one was tempted to use it.

The services no longer have a capability to cover the medical needs in a campaign (Commons Defence Select Committee opinion), so a dual-role ship cannot now be justified.

Scotland should therefore be permitted to opt out of contributing towards the cost of a replacement royal yacht.

Prince Philip will be remembered for many years for his delightful, spontaneous and monumental clangers.

A stone with some of his sayings inscribed on it would be a more fitting tribute.

Dr Lindsay Neil, Selkirk.


PATRICK Harvie (“Greens leader says school exams should be scrapped as pupils face ‘pressure’”, April 22), is right when he says that school assessment requires to be changed.

As an invigilator now for some years, when I come out of overseeing an exam, my first observation is always that these are the same exams I sat 55 years ago.

Educational achievement today should move beyond algebra and Newton’s laws. We are channelling the education of our young people into too narrow a window and forcing them to make lifelong decisions too early.

Lifelong learning should not just be for middle-class oldies. Life – i.e. work experience for young people – is mostly centred on entertainment and hospitality. It requires to be wider.

A paid, year-long life awareness package should be set up for all young people when they leave school at whatever age and with whatever qualifications before entering work/college/university – for example, across the care and health sector.

With longer working lives envisaged ahead for most, it is so important that young people’s experience of work is not solely viewed through their family’s prism.

There is constant talk of new beginnings but not much sign of any actual creative action.

There are always different ways to approach all areas. Education is the most important building block for our own and society’s development. We can do this better.

Tom Macpherson, Stewarton.


I WRITE to agree with the views of Allen Armstrong (letters, April 21).

If the proposal to incorporate the Celtic and Rangers B/Colts teams were to go ahead, it would serve only to further entrench the financial and footballing hegemony of the Old Firm,

These B teams consist largely of lads aged between 17 and 20. Currently, they play other teams of players of similar age.

If they were to join League Two, then they would be playing regularly against teams which, although not coached to the same level of sophistication, would consist largely of grown men, some of whom would have great experience.

This would enhance the development of Celtic and Rangers players, so when the time came for them to step up into the first team, they would be better prepared, or financially more valuable as transfers. This would disadvantage the other top clubs, who may press for the inclusion of their own B teams in League Two.

While the Old Firm B teams would not be promoted, would they be allowed to participate in other competitions, such as the League and Scottish Cup, and the Challenge Trophy?

On a purely hypothetical point, what if both the B teams were to finish the season at the bottom of the league?

If the promotion and relegation play-offs between the bottom side in League Two and the winner of the play-offs between the Highland and Lowland League champions are still taking place, does this mean that the third-from-bottom team would have to face this challenge? The cash injection proposed is at best a short to medium-term fix.



THELMA Edwards’s praise of spring (Letters, April 22) made for lovely reading but the season will be all the more welcome for the reopening of pubs and non-essential shops. Shopping and a relaxing pint in glorious weather. What could be nicer?

L. Harris, Glasgow.