Saving the planet - Prince Charles rents a yacht

The 2000-ton Leander
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The Daily Telegraph reports that the Prince of Wales has hired one of the world's most expensive private yachts to sail round the Caribbean - as a cost-cutting measure.

The 2,000-ton Leander, decorated in the style of a faded English country home, has been leased to the Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall for the 10-day trip next month.

Clarence House has negotiated a reduced rate on the usual £40,000-a-day fee.

The Prince, sensitive to criticisms of the costs of his overseas tours which are funded by the taxpayer, will travel with his entourage to Trinidad on a scheduled flight rather than a chartered plane.

The Royal entourage, which will stay on the liner, will then sail to Tobago, St Lucia, Montserrat and Jamaica before flying back to Britain.

Clarence House said that using Leander will mean a 40 per cent reduction in carbon emissions compared with the Prince's last Caribbean tour in 2000. The cost of hiring the boat will also be lower, according to the prince's staff.

It is the first time since the Royal Yacht Britannia was scrapped in 1997 that a member of the Royal Family has hired a private vessel for an official overseas visit.

The duchess is familiar with the comforts of the 245 ft vessel, which is owned by the car park tycoon Sir Donald Gosling, who founded NCP.

After her abrupt withdrawal from the service last year to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, she was lent the £50 million vessel, which has a 25-strong crew, for a week-long holiday in the south of France.

Leander, named after the warship on which Sir Donald served during the war, takes a maximum of 12 guests. The dining room, which seats 100, has a floor-to-ceiling mural of classic sailing ships.

The master cabin includes en-suite bathroom, study, sitting room and massage room. There is also a freshwater swimming pool, a rarity on even the grandest yachts.

The Royal couple can also enjoy a fully-equipped gymnasium and a water-level lobby from which they can dive into the sea. Britannia, by contrast, had no swimming pools, chandeliers, or opulent furnishings.

It will be the first visit by the Prince to Montserrat which is trying to rebuild its tourism industry after the Soufriere volcano, dormant for more than 400 years, erupted and killed 19 people.

The capital, Plymouth, was buried and the small coastal town of St Patrick's swept away.