Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia was the 83rd Royal Yacht since the restoration of King Charles II in 1660. She is the 2nd Royal yacht to bear the name, the first being the famous racing cutter built for The Prince of Wales in 1893. She is now permanently moored as an exhibition ship at Ocean Terminal, Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland.
was built at the shipyard of John Brown & Co. Ltd
, West Dunbartonshire
, being launched by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
on 16 April 1953
and commissioned on 11 January 1954
. She was designed to be converted into a hospital ship
in time of war, although this never happened. During her career as Royal Yacht she conveyed the Queen, other members of the Royal Family
, and various dignitaries on 696 foreign visits and 272 visits in British waters. The Prince of Wales
and Diana, Princess of Wales
took a honeymoon cruise aboard Britannia
in 1981. She also evacuated over 1,000 refugees from the civil war
in 1986. Guests included United States General Norman Schwarzkopf
, who commented when he saw the engines: "Well, I've now seen the museum pieces. Where are the real engines?"
Britannia logged over a million nautical miles during which she visited nations around the globe.
In 1997, John Major
government committed itself to replacing the Royal Yacht if re-elected, while the Labour Party
declined to disclose its plans for the vessel. Following Labour's victory on 1 May 1997
it was announced that the vessel would be retired and no replacement would be built. The Conservative government argued that the cost of the vessel was justified by its role in foreign policy
and promoting British interests abroad. When cancelling the replacement of the vessel, the new Labour government argued that the expenditure could not be justified given the other pressures on the defence budget (from which it would be funded and maintained). Proposals for the construction of a new royal yacht, perhaps financed through a loan or by the sovereign's own funds, have since made little headway.
The Royal Yacht's last foreign mission was to convey the last British governor of Hong Kong; Chris Patten (now the The Lord Patten of Barnes) and The Prince of Wales, away from Hong Kong after the handover of the British colony to the People's Republic of China on 1 July 1997. Britannia was decommissioned on 11 December 1997.
There was some controversy over the siting of the ship, with some arguing that she would be better moored in Glasgow, where she was built, than in Edinburgh, to which the yacht had few links. However, her positioning in Leith coincided with a redevelopment of the harbour area, and the advent of Scottish Devolution
Her Majesty The Queen attended the decommissioning, along with most of the senior members of the Royal Family, and the normally impassive monarch famously shed a tear publicly after disembarking for the last time.
Britannia is now permanently moored as an exhibition ship at Leith harbour, Edinburgh, Scotland. Entrance to the yacht is via the Ocean Terminal development. She is available for rental as a conference and banqueting venue. On May 18, 2006 Swiss Hollywood star and legendary first Bond girl Ursula Andress celebrated her 70th birthday on board the Royal Yacht.
- Gross Tonnage: 5769 tons.
- Length: 412 ft (125 m)
- Height of masts above waterline:
- Foremast: 133 ft (40.5 m)
- Mainmast: 139 ft (42 m)
- Mizzenmast: 118 ft (36 m)
- ;The top 20 feet (6 m) of the two tallest masts were hinged to allow the ship to pass under bridges.
- Maximum speed: 21.5 knots (40 km/h)
- Range: ca. 2400 nautical miles (4,445 km)
- During her career, Britannia steamed 1,087,623 nautical miles (2,014,278 km).
- Crew (1997): 19 officers and 217 ratings from the Royal Navy plus a platoon size Royal Marine detachment.
Flag Officers Royal Yachts
Commodore Royal Yacht
Previous Royal Yachts