Royal Yacht Squadron members' yachts are to be reviewed by Prince Philip and Europe's keenest sailing Royalty in celebration of the club's bicentenary. Rupert Rowe reports

The Royal Family along with seven other European royals is to review over 180 yachts owned by members of the exclusive Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS) in Cowes on the 5 June, in commemoration of the club’s bicentenary.

Prince Philip, The Princess Royal, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the Earl and Countess of Wessex and Prince Michael of Kent will be joined by King Harald of Norway, King Constantine II of Greece and Queen Anne-Marie, Prince Albert of Monaco and King Juan Carlos of Spain are going to be in attendance and are all keen sailors.

Among the yachts taking part in the fleet review will be the William Fife designed Mariquita which is widely regarded as one of the most iconic classic sailing yachts in history. Also making an appearance will be Eleonora – the replica of the 1910 Herreshoff designed Westward that was considered the fastest schooner in the world when she was built. Some more modern yachts will also be on show such as the Royal Huisman ketch Annakena and the superyacht Bristolian.

There will be viewing areas for members of the public along the shore including the Parade and the Green to catch a glimpse of both the yachts on display and the Royal visitors. The best view of the yachts however, will be out on the water although there will be a strictly enforced 50m exclusion zone around the display area.

The Air Squadron, an organisation similar to the RYS but for its flying compatriots, will be putting on a Spitfire air display during the day. Finally, proceedings will be drawn to a close with a Beating Retreat played by the Band of the Royal Marines on the Parade in Cowes.

Royal connections

The Duke of Edinburgh, who is currently Admiral of the Royal Yacht Squadron, started his career in the Royal Navy and served on various classes of vessel during the World War Two. In 1948 the Island Sailing Club gave the Dragon Bluebottle to Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh as a wedding present in which he competed at many regattas including Cowes week.

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, sailing a Dragon at Cowes Week in 1957 with a young Prince Charles in the crew

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, sailing a Dragon at Cowes Week in 1957 with a young Prince Charles in the crew


It was on the Duke of Edinburgh’s request that, in 1962, the royal family should buy Bloodhound, a 63ft Camper and Nicholson on which he cruised extensively with Prince Charles and Princess Anne.

HRH King Juan Carlos of Spain is the head of a family well known for its sailing prowess. He competed at a high level in his early life, most notably in the Dragon class in which he came 15th in the 1972 Olympic games. His enthusiasm for sailing also got him onboard the Volvo 70 Movistar during an inshore race of the Volvo Ocean Race in 2005.

HRH Prince Henrik of Denmark skippered and helmed a Farr40 campaign that finished 4th in the 2008 world championships. He is a keen Dragon racer and took his team to a 4th place finish in the 2003 European championship.

Among the royals and aristocrats who have typically made up the list of members since the RYS was established in 1815, have been twelve holders of the Victoria Cross, the captain of Lord Nelson’s HMS Victory, Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy, the explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and more recently Sir Robert Knox Johnson and Sir Ben Ainslie, who owns a Truly Classic 65 named Rita.

For more information about the Royal Yacht Squadron see this article: Inside The Royal Yacht Squadron