PRINCE Andrew and the Royal Navy mine hunter he commands joined a search last week for a 17th-century shipwreck - a ferry that went down loaded with silver and jewels belonging to King Charles I.
The Royal Navy says that the HMS Cottesmore was using its mine-detection equipment to search the bottom of the Firth of Forth in southeast Scotland for the remains of the Blessing of Burntisland.
The ferry, laden with presents the king had received on his coronation tour, was caught in a sudden squall and keeled over on July 10, 1633. Charles is said to have watched in horror from his ship, Dreadnought.
If the shipwreck is found, Andrew's mother, Queen Elizabeth II, would have the first option to buy the treasure from the salvagers, because Charles I was her ancestor. The treasure is believed to include a medieval royal dinner service, says Alex Kilgour, a Scottish businessman involved in the search.
``The real worth is priceless; you can't put a figure on it. But a valuation frequently bandied about is 200 million [$300 million],'' Mr. Kilgour says.
Barry Clifford, a Massachusetts-based salvage entrepreneur, will oversee a diving operation this spring to follow leads detected by the mine hunter, Kilgour says.
Before the Royal Navy joined the search, the salvagers identified 10 potential targets as being likely wrecks.