Christmas at sea

MY Christmas Day in 1953 was spent on the Royal Yacht in the South Atlantic between Chatham and the Deception Islands. I was coxswain of the Royal Yacht, and we had left New Zealand on December 16th. On board was the Duke of Edinburgh and members of the Royal party who were taking part in an Antarctic adventure.

The crew were awake early and looking forward to participating in the day’s events. Families at home were paramount in their thoughts as they opened their presents and cards.

At 06:56 local time (14:56 in Britain), Prince Phillip made a special broadcast from the Royal Yacht. This was followed by Her Majesty the Queen’s Christmas Day broadcast, in which she mentioned crew members and their families back home.

On his tour below decks, Prince Phillip must have been dazzled by the ingenuity shown by all in their decorating skills, for in each living area Christmas scenes had been arranged. There had been a complete transformation in the decor of the crew’s living quarters and it became clear that every effort had been made to enjoy the occasion, despite being so far from home.

By nightfall the yacht fell silent, leaving each member of the crew to reflect on the day’s events and think of their family at home some 9,000 miles away.

Herbert Cain, Norwich, Norfolk.