Gerald Warner - the Telegraph's resident Arch-Tory Reactionary - has an excellent idea:
The ideal Jubilee present to the Queen would be a new royal yacht. The refusal to replace the Royal Yacht Britannia in 1997 was an example of New Labour spitefulness. The hypocritical plea of economy did not prevent Tony Blair from ordering an executive jet – “Blair Force One” – for his own convenience, at a projected cost to taxpayers of £100m, almost twice the cost of a new royal yacht: it was cancelled by Gordon Brown. It was ideological prejudice that denied the Queen a replacement for Britannia; but, so far from saving money, it increased the cost to the taxpayer.
Well naturally. Should Britain ever become a republic - wicked, wicked thought - the first President of the British Republic would order up a splendid plane and yacht, because after all the state must have its dignity. One can only imagine the non-entities who would aspire to such a role.
Jacobins often posture as paragons of moral virtue. Certainly the great butcher Robespierre talked a lot about virtue and reason, all the while sending innocent men and women to their deaths. His modern descendants, at least in Britain, are far too delicate for guillotines. The gentle entanglements of the nanny state, and the consequent slow suffocation of civil society, are more to their taste. Don't raze the temples, just subvert them. Subversion under the cover of virtue.
One of the tenants of virtue is frugality. The spendthrift's career is a short and pointless one. It takes a certain restraint not to bankrupt oneself, especially in the modern age where credit is ubiquitous. Denouncing the monarchy as extravagant is an easy way to posture as virtuous. That the monarchy is, per capita, the most efficiently and cheaply run aspect of the British state, is of course ignored. Frugality and gilded coaches don't go together. The coaches, however, date from the Georgian era, and much of HM wealth is private not publicly derived. It is the careful product of centuries, not the looted wealth of the living.
The Queen, and immediate members of the Royal Family, do live in splendour, most of which is inherited from centuries past. They are also almost always "on call." Being Queen of the United Kingdom, and fifteen other commonwealth realms, is not a job it is a vocation. The word - from the Latin - means a calling. In its Christian meaning it is a calling from God to service. A more secular approach would describe it as doing what you were meant to do. A vocation is not something one picks up and discards as a matter of convenience. It is you. HM has made it quite clear she will never abdicate. John Paul II - despite crippling illness - refused to relinquish the pontificate. Both had sworn before God to serve until they died. The Pope is never not Pope. The Queen is never not Queen. It is who they are.
You might regard this as quaint nonsense, and mystical nonsense at that, but it is a spectacle of the profound. In a shallow and transient age the monarch is being monarchical, i.e. eternal in the flux. Constant as the northern star. In her service to the country the Queen is delivering a lesson to her subjects. I mean this. I am this. I will always be this. Change you, ministers and mores, I do not change, except in the superficial.
The yacht is a superficial thing. Whatever private royal pleasures taken from Britannia, its chief function was as a floating diplomatic mission of the British government. Just as Buckingham Palace is private residence, museum and theatre for state functions. A new Royal Yacht would serve a practical function as well as a symbolic one. It would be a simple thank you to a woman who has accepted her vocation and performed it superbly. I suspect she would refuse the offer of a new yacht. The PR would be bad for her and the monarchy, extravagance in the midst of fiscal retrenchment. This does not change the fact that she deserves it.