Back to start

Travelling Royals

As Sir Thomas Sutherland once lamented: 'we have no American millionaires, like my friends of the Cunard Company, travelling in our ships, or if they ever travel in our vessels they travel incognito and save their money.'

Millionaires may have been scarce but there was no shortage of the great and the good travelling P&O. Regular references to the Company's steamers appeared in the Court Circulars of the day and P&O continued its age-old tradition of carrying royalty.

In 1907 the Duke and Duchess of Connaught travelled aboard Delhi from Colombo to Hong Kong. The Princess Royal, Louise Duchess of Fife, made several voyages on P&O ships to Egypt, the climate there being reputedly to the benefit of her health. On one such occasion, the Duchess was travelling with the Duke of Fife and their family on board Delhi when the ship ran aground two miles south of Cape Spartel, (Morocco) at the entrance to the Straits of Gibraltar. The royal party, and their fellow passengers, were rescued with help from the Royal and French Navies, but not before their launch sank in the heavy seas. It was widely suggested that the Duke of Fife's death from pleurisy in 1911, just weeks after their ordeal, was directly attributable to the Delhi disaster.

The last of the 'M' class had the distinction of being requisitioned on the stocks as the royal yacht for the King’s son, and successor, George V and Queen Mary to visit the Delhi Durbar in 1911.