Well, I got it wrong – I believed this was the Royal steam yacht HMY Alberta pictured at Cowes the Titanic in the background – but thanks to the sharp-eyed Chris Partridge of the excellent Rowing for Pleasure weblog, I now know this SY Alberta is a different vessel – and correctly named.
SY Alberta changed hands during 1912 and at the time of the photo may have been either the property of either London company Little & Johnston, which operated her as the royal yacht to King Leopold II of Belgium, or to a Mr Cohn.
The SY Alberta’s story is told by a page on the website of acutioneers Christie’s.
She was designed by GL Watson and built by the Ailsa Shipbuilding Co at Troon in 1896, and began life as the Margarita – she was the second of three yachts with the same name owned by Philadelphia banker AJ Drexel. Registered at 1,322 tons (Thames), she measured 252½ feet in length with a 33½ foot beam and sported a schooner rig on two raked masts.
SY Alberta had quite a career. By 1918 she was serving in the Russian Navy until seized by the Royal Navy and put to work as a despatch vessel as HMS Surprise. She then passed into private hands b7ut rejoined the Royal Navy in 1939. Things become a little hazy from that point, but she reappeared after WWII ended and was last listed as a yacht in 1950.
I don’t think there’s any doubt about the Titanic. She sank in the North Atlantic five days later, on the 15 April 1912.
A lady called Mary sent the scan of the postcard and asked about the steam yacht – so Mary, please scrub my previous answer and replace it with the correct one. And thanks for the scan of the postcard!