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Royal Yacht Britannia
The Royal Yacht Britannia, floating holiday home to Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family for over 40 years, sailing over 1,000,000 miles around the world.
‘Britannia is special for a number of reasons. Almost every previous sovereign has been responsible for building a church, a castle, a palace or just a house. The only comparable structure in the present reign is Britannia.’ HRH Prince Phillip
Britannia’s new home in Leith, on the edge of Edinburgh, is a far cry from many of her previous docking points on her jaunts around the UK and beyond. Now though, we ordinary folk can board the Royal families’ former floating holiday home and catch a glimpse of the experiences they enjoyed from 1954 to 1997. Britannia is the 83rd Royal vessel since King Charles the second in 1660.
The Bridge, centre of command on board Britannia. Hand held audio devices provided an insight into the workings of Britannia as visitors tour the 5 decks.
Britannia’s steering wheel was not on the Bridge, but in the Wheelhouse on the deck immediately below. Its location meant the Yachtsmen steering Britannia could not see where they were going, and were guided by orders linked by voice pipes from the Bridge above.
Leading off the main deck, the sunroom was a place for the Royals to relax and enjoy a drink or two from the cabinet to the left. The phone and controls can be seen above the sofa. The decor of the rooms was selected to give the feeling of a fine country home. This was achieved brilliantly as the yacht is no overly ostentatious. One could almost feel quite easily at home on-board Britannia.
The Queens bedroom and private study. The quilt cover is made from original fabric that Queen Victoria had on her bed.
Prince Phillips’ room on-board Britannia.
Officers bar. Britannia was not short of specific areas for all on-board to relax and unwind. One would not expect the Royal Corgies generally frequented the Officers’ bar – oh, and the beers are fake! Interesting to see the ‘Fosters’ mat on the bar…
The Officers’ lounge. Britannia’s equivalent of a Gentleman’s Club.
From their lounge area, officers would walk through to their elegant dining room.
The State Banquet Room. World leaders such as Sir Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Ronald Reagan and Rajiv Gandhi have dined here over the years.
The dining areas and bars on-board are available to book for receptions and functions-
‘Imagine your guests’ faces as the grand mahogany doors open to reveal the magnificent candlelit State Dining Room, set to perfection for your evening. Everything is considered, down to the smallest detail; from fresh flowers to the finest crystal, gleaming silver cutlery to personalised menus, embossed withBritannia’s unmistakable gold crest.’
The lower ranked staff on Britannia were also treated to a bar where they too could relax and unwind.
The Junior Ratings’ Room – Known as ‘The Unwinding Room’.
The engine room, polished brass and chrome and gleaming white enamel – Superb British engineering at its best. The engines worked for over 1 million nautical miles. The Queen was known to be fond of the Engine Room and would quite often take guests down to see it after dinner.
‘When America’s General Norman Schwarzkopf was shown Britannia’s spotless Engine Room in 1992, he was reported as saying: ‘Okay. I’ve seen the museum piece. Now, where’s the real engine room?’
Over 240 Officers and Yachtsmen had uniform changes on a daily basis – the Laundry was an essential service.
Body press! The mind boggles! Obviously it was for uniform pressing…
A retired Rolls-Royce Phantom V state car, owned by the royal family in the 1960s, is on display in a purpose-built garage aboard Britannia.
During a tour of Britannia, visitors can enjoy a decadent afternoon tea or meal in the en-closed Royal Deck Tearoom.
ROYAL YACHT BRITANNIA – History on the website
Ocean Terminal, Ocean Dr, Edinburgh EH6 6JJ, United Kingdom