Cabinet minister Michael Gove has suggested the taxpayer should donate the Queen a new royal yacht to mark her diamond jubilee.
The Education Secretary made the proposal in a letter to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt which has been obtained by The Guardian.
Labour said the idea demonstrated Mr Gove was “out of touch” to think such expenditure was appropriate at a time when school budgets were being cut.
A new yacht is likely to cost in the region of £60 million.
But, in his letter, Mr Gove wrote: ‘In spite, and perhaps because of the austere times, the celebration should go beyond those of previous jubilees and mark the greater achievement that the diamond anniversary represents.’
He writes that the Queen’s ‘highly significant contribution’ to Britain and the Commonwealth should be recognised with a ‘lasting legacy’.
‘Events such as proms and the party at the palace organised for the diamond jubilee, and street parties, although excellent, are transient,’ he writes.
‘It would be appropriate to do something that will mark the significance of this occasion with fitting ceremony.
‘My suggestion would be a gift from the nation to her majesty; thinking about David Willetts’s excellent suggestion of a royal yacht, and something tangible to commemorate this momentous occasion.’
Mr Gove also argues that the diamond jubilee celebrations should not be secondary to the Olympics.
‘The diamond jubilee must not be overshadowed by the Olympic Games, but form an integral part of this great year for our country,’ he writes.
Labour Party deputy chairman Tom Watson said: ‘We’re all looking forward to the diamond jubilee. The significance of the occasion should be celebrated across the country.
‘But Michael Gove has shown he is out of touch with this proposal.
‘When school budgets are being slashed, parents will be wondering how Gove came even to suggest this idea. This is not the time to spend £60 million on a yacht.’
The Royal Yacht Britannia served the Royal family for 44 years and was decommissioned on December 11, 1997 at Portsmouth Naval Base in the presence of the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and 12 other Royals.
Prince Philip criticised the move in an interview last year, saying: ‘She was as sound as a bell and she could have gone on for another 50 years.’