Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia or the Royal Yacht Britannia is the former royal yacht of Queen Elizabeth II. The royal yacht was used for 40 years from 1954 to 1997. She is the second yacht to bear the HMY name. The yacht is now retired and permanently berthed at ocean terminal in Edinburgh.
Before she retired the royal yacht had served the Queen very well and travelled a million nautical miles all over the world. The first royal yacht was called the HMY Mary. Since 1660 when King Charles II was betrothed, the royal family has used over 83 yachts.
The HMY Britannia is often dubbed the last royal yacht as there have been no signs of having another royal yacht commissioned since this one was decommissioned. It is therefore a significant artifact that showcases what the royal life is like. After the ship was decommissioned, Her majesty the Queen openly wept due to the many memories that she had with the Britannia.
All the clocks on the yacht were stopped at 3:01 which is the exact time that the Queen last disembarked from the yacht. Although the yacht is a royal one and highly classy, it was redesigned to be less opulent. When the ship was being designed in 1952 the country was recovering from war.
The Queen and Prince Phillip therefore felt that it wasn’t right for the country to spend so much money on the yacht which is why they changed the interior design of the yacht to spend less.
However the royal yacht still had royal standards. For instance it had a formal staircase where the Queen would greet her guests. It also has a 56 seat state dining room, separate sitting rooms and bedrooms for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh among other royal living standards.
The HMY Britannia had a garage to ferry the Queen’s Rolls Royce phantom V but the garage was too small. This caused the bumpers of the car to be removed and reattached when the car was off the yacht. This led to the garage being repurposed into a beer store. The yacht was built to double as a hospital but it was never used for that purpose.
However, it was used on a rescue mission where European nationals were rescued from South Yemen. The structure of the yacht is therefore a bit different. The main veranda is huge and reinforced to support landing a helicopter. The laundry was also larger than usual to support potential patients.
HMY Britannia has hosted some of the most influential people in the world like Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Noel Coward and many US presidents. Besides being used for official royal travels by the Queen, the royal yacht was also used as a royal family vacation spot and also for royal honeymoons.
Four royal couples are known to have celebrated their honeymoons on the royal yacht. The use of the ship by the royal family didn’t stop after it was decommissioned. In 2011 Zara Phillips used the royal yacht as the reception before her wedding. The Queen was not in attendance and is said to never have gone back to the HMY after it was decommissioned.
The whole team loved being on the ship because it was so close to the shore.