By Craig Brown - Scotsman
The Duke of Edinburgh said the plight of the 145-year-old City of Adelaide, currently resting on a slipway on the west coast of Scotland, is "hideous" and appealed for help to restore it to its former glory.
The Sunderland-built ship, which predates the Cutty Sark, took people and wool between Australia and Britain on 28 round trips.
Built from teak and iron in 1864, the clipper once completed the Britain to Australia route in a record 65 days, cutting 35 days off the normal journey.
Later known as the Carrick, it subsequently fulfilled many roles, including acting as a floating isolation hospital, a Royal Navy drill ship and finally, during the Second World War, as a floating clubhouse for the Royal Navy Reserve.
After its final decomission, it has been left to the elements at Irvine, North Ayrshire, and could still face being dismantled for display in a museum.
The Scottish Government is considering a number of options for the future of the ship, with campaigners hoping to refloat the vessel and take it to Australia or back to Sunderland.
In a rare interview, the duke lamented the difficulties in securing money to restore old ships like the Adelaide.
He said: "As long as I've been alive, there's never been a good moment to raise money.
"Mind you, the sums back then looked smaller, because no-one seems to know anything about inflation, least of all the Treasury.
"People had got it into their heads that we are looking after historic buildings, but it was a completely new concept that we should look after historic ships.
"The National Trust was there for old buildings, but there was no-one there for old ships.
"We've still got a hideous problem with the City of Adelaide, which belongs to the Scottish Maritime Museum but is caught in a trap. Because it was falling to bits, they pulled it out of the water and it's now become a listed building.
"But they can't raise the money to do anything about it. You can't seem to concentrate the interest. It's a great pity."
His comments came as Scottish culture minister Fiona Hyslop yesterday met campaigners who want to save the clipper.
Earlier this year, Ms Hyslop announced that Historic Scotland had commissioned real estate advisers DTZ to review options for the category A-listed ship.
Those under consideration include moving the ship to Sunderland, to Adelaide in South Australia, or moving it to a different location in Scotland.