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What Is a Royal Yacht?

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  • Written By: Alicia Sparks
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2016
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A royal yacht is the official yacht of a monarch or royal family, and is called an imperial yacht when the monarch is an emperor. Royal and imperial yachts are used for everything from making trips to entertaining guests. Such yachts are of varying sizes and degrees of majesty, but they usually are financed, maintained, and operated by the nation’s government. Typically, only countries with monarchs or emperors have royal or imperial yachts, but some nations with presidents have presidential yachts. Decommissioned royal yachts are often made available for tours, but these shouldn’t be confused with charter boat businesses or yacht clubs.

Generally, only a country that has a royal family has a royal yacht. Norway, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, and Dubai all have royal yachts. Note that some nations that once had royal yachts don’t have them any more, for one reason or another. The United Kingdom, for instance, hasn’t had a royal yacht since the Britannia was decommissioned in 1997.

Still, nations without monarchies or royal families do have their own versions of royal yachts. The United States, for example, has used presidential yachts in the past. The president of Finland employs a small private yacht.

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Usually, royal yachts are maintained by the government of the nation in which the monarch rules. This might include providing money to build and preserve the yachts as well as providing the necessary captains and crews. Sometimes, members of the nation’s navy or the royal navy man a royal yacht. Such accommodations, as well as financial considerations, can vary depending on the nation and monarchy involved.

A monarch may use a royal yacht for business or pleasure. Often, these yachts are used to travel short distances across small bodies of water. Sometimes, a royal family will entertain important guests or hold celebrations on the yacht. These might be state or personal occasions. Presidents sometimes use presidential yachts for similar reasons.

Sometimes, a royal yacht is retired and made available to the public for tours. During these situations, it’s possible for the public to experience, to a certain degree, the actual yacht. There are boat businesses, however, that advertise royal yacht charters or rentals, but usually neither these businesses nor their boats should be confused with actual royal yachts. Generally, the use of the word “royal” in such an instance is to convey the idea that the amenities of the boats or yachts are so luxurious, it can be compared with royalty. Similar to these businesses, clubs or organizations that dub themselves “royal yacht clubs” or “royal boat clubs” shouldn’t be confused with yachts or boats that are actually associated with a royal family.

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