#Holiday #Edinburgh #Scotland – the Royal Yacht Britannia

If you do ever stay in Edinburgh I highly recommend a visit to the docks to take a tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia – a fascinating insight into the queen’s beloved floating holiday home, decommissioned by the Labour government in 1997 with the refusal to replace her.

She was in service from 1954 until 1997, and travelled more than a million nautical miles around the world for holidays and many state visits. You can read a lot more about her HERE, but below you’ll find photos and video snippets of most everything on board as it is today – a floating tourist attraction.

When you arrive at the visitor centre, while waiting in the queue, you get to see this amazing ornate compass stand

But don’t expect such opulence through the entire vessel, it provides an eye-opening contrast between public rooms and the simplicity that so appealed to the royal family when out of public view.

The tour covers all 5 decks, starting outside with a view of the foredeck, where the family would stand for photos to be taken of them on arrival at ports, and where, in private, many games would be played.

Then up, behind the chimneys, you find this wonderful cabinet of signal flags – the ones that would be run up the mast to ‘talk’ to anyone who understands the language

Nice to know the lifeboats are still there!

And berthed alongside, is the 1963 racing yacht, Bloodhound, once owned by the Queen and Prince Philip.  Bloodhound was one of the most successful ocean-racing yachts ever built and was also the yacht on which both the Prince of Wales and Princess Royal learned to sail.

And so, to one of the most surprising items aboard the yacht: the royal garage!

When I saw this on the tour itinerary, I was bemused. But it is exactly what it says, and it contains a retired Rolls-Royce Phantom V state car, used on foreign visits where no such quality transport could be provided by the host nation. Just before you take a look, I should also explain one of the most fun quirks of this tour, really for the children (but hey, who cares!) – throughout the yacht, you have to keep an eye open for royal corgis – you have been warned…

Then we come to the rear deck, also a site for many activities

Here’s the large bell used to summon people…

And then we moved inside – this games room and bar was apparently Prince Philip’s favourite haunt

You can see from this collection the royal family’s love for board games and quoits

Then on to the queen’s bijou bedroom

And Prince Philip’s bedroom (you start to see the simplicity they cherished here)

Plus a tiny snipped of the double room used by Charles and Diana on their honeymoon

Moving up to the top deck, once an open deck, now covered over to form a lovely visitors café serving food fit for a royal party

Place setting

Then we have the lounge, and start to really see some of the quirks, such as the overhead wombat who might be used for target practice

amongst the exquisite silverware on show

Still spotting the corgis?

Back to formality with the state dining room with many of the gifts received from foreign dignitaries displayed on the walls

The queen’s private office

Prince Philip’s office (sorry this one is a bit fuzzy through the glass, but you get the picture)

Complete with the requisite corgi, of course


The formal drawing room

Back outside to see the motor launch, used for ferrying passengers to and from Britannia

And then we start going to lower decks, to see staff accommodation, such as the officer’s bar

And look who I found there

Crew quarters were definitely ‘snug’

Of course there was a resident band

The senior officers mess

The vessel was also designed with the option of being used as a hospital ship in the event of war – thankfully never used.

With the huge number of people onboard, the laundry would have been busy all day, every day

The gleaming engine room

Yet more snug accommodation

And bathroom

SO back outside, at the base of the gangplank, we found a statue dedicated to the ‘yotties’ – the name proudly owned by the enthusiastic crew members.

Quoting from Wikipedia, “The crew of Royal Yachtsmen were volunteers from the general service of the Royal Navy. Officers were appointed for up to two years, while the “yachtsmen” were volunteers and after 365 days’ service could be admitted to “The Permanent Royal Yacht Service” as Royal Yachtsmen and served until they chose to leave the Royal Yacht Service or were dismissed for medical or disciplinary reasons. As a result, some served for 20 years or more.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed your tour of Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia?

 

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14 comments

  1. That was fun. I’ve just finished The Crown so your pictures made a lot of sense. Didn’t know it was no longer in service. I guess you need to be a Suadi King or dictator to have such frivolities anymore.

    1. It’s very sad, it was such a bolt hole for the family and an ambassador for the country at the same time. All they needed was for the Conservatives to win that election and it would have been replaced – that was on their manifesto.

  2. We saw the Royal Yacht sailing out of Portsmouth for the last time. We got off the ferry from Gosport and wondered why so many people were gathering, then the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh drove by – still we didn’t know what the occasion was, then later on we saw the ship sailing out.
    We have been to see her in Edinburgh, a good while ago, thre wasn’t a cafe on board then. I really enjoyed looking round, surprised at the royal cabins.

    1. I would have been surprised at the cabins if I hadn’t seen TV documentaries about the family, and the frugal way they live at times, even in amongst all the splendour.
      The café is a great addition for visitors – the tour is quite long, lots of walking and stairs, I think many people need a cup of tea and piece of cake (or cucumber sandwiches!) after that!

  3. Wow, those boats are spotless! It appears that they were polished up just before you kids arrived. I love the stuffed doggies making appearances!

    1. Those corgis were such fun! Definitely not just for the kiddies 😉

  4. Wow what a spectacular tour Deb. A nice slice of history and nice to see how the higher ups live lol. 🙂

    1. Another part of Edinburgh well worth the visit – am I doing a great job of tempting you, or what?

      1. Absolutely! When I get there, you are definitely hired as my tour guide!!! 🙂 x

      2. I’ll start getting my uniform organised… 😉

      3. Lol, I”ll give you plenty of warning!!! ❤

  5. Fabulous post ans brilliant photos. Been to Edinburgh several times but never managed to visit the Royal Yacht. It looks so impressive that we may have to remedy that in he future now.

    1. You most definitely should, it is pretty special 😀

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