Height: 43 inches (109cm) Width 60 inches (152.5cm) Framed height 57½ inches (146 cm) Width 81½ inches (207cm)
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A racing flag from the Royal Sailing Yacht Britannia, circa 1936. This large racing flag was made from pieced wool bunting with machine stitched bunting and a canvas sleeve stamped ‘5’. It is of rectangular form with the Prince of Wales feathers enclosed in a ducal coronet and the motto ‘Ich Dien’ on a halved blue and red ground, later framed and glazed. It is accompanied by a black edged letter on Buckingham Palace writing paper dated 10th July 1936 saying ‘Dear Sir, I am commanded by the King and Queen Mary to send you these flags which were flown on board “Britannia” at various times during her career, including one of her racing flags. Their Majesties hope you will like to keep these in your club house as souvenirs of the old yacht. Yours Derek Keppell, Master of the Household, The Commodore, Royal Portsmouth Corinthian Yacht Club.” King George died on 20 January 1936 which explains the black edge to the letter. English, circa 1936.
Height: 43in (109cm) Width:60in (152.5cm) Framed height: 57½ in (146 cm) Width: 81½ in (207cm)
Provenance: Royal Naval Club & Royal Albert Yacht Club, Portsmouth
R.S.Y. Britannia played an important part in preparing challengers for the America’s Cup. She was used as a trial horse for the Shamrocks and later, after conversion, for most of the ‘J’ Class yachts of the 1930s. Britannia was built in 1893 according to the plans of G. L. Watson for His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, a keen and able helmsman. From the beginning, Britannia was a successful racing yacht winning races against Kaiser Wilhelm’s Meteors, among many others. Britannia won over two hundred races in her career — a record that has yet to be surpassed. She was beaten once by Navahoe, one of Herreshoff’s boats, but fared better against another America’s Cup yacht, Vigilant, winning twelve races out of seventeen. When Britannia was converted to race in the ‘J’ Class she was stripped of her bulwarks, given a one-piece mast and a Bermudan mainsail. The transition did not interrupt her run of success, although she performed best in hard weather. She was scuttled off the Isle of Wight at the dying request of George V.
A grisaille by Charles Dixon of R S Y Britannia racnig at Cowes. Credit: Wick Antiques
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A racing flag from the Royal Sailing Yacht Britannia, circa 1936