Visiting the Royal Yacht Britannia

Royal Yacht Britannia, Edinburgh

Royal Yacht Britannia at the Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh


With a new baby expected any day now, many people are thinking about the British Royal Family. Accordingly, it seems fitting to look at the Royal Family’s ship, HMY Britannia.


The Britannia was built in the early 1950s not to be a pleasure boat for the Royal Family but to assist the monarch in her duties as head of state by acting as a mobile base of operations during her visits to foreign lands. Among other things, the yacht allowed the Queen to host receptions and banquets under the British flag while she was abroad. And the list of foreign heads of state that visited Britannia during her 40 years of service is quite impressive, including four United States Presidents.


Inside, Britannia does not overwhelm you would grand salons and opulence. Rather, she is decorated like a British country house from the first half of the 20th century – – chintz, white painted walls. She did not even have a swimming pool much less hot tubs, saunas, or other staples of the mega-yachts that you see today.


As a ship, Britannia was obsolete by the time she retired in 1997. Officers on the bridge spoke to a separate wheelhouse via metal tubes, she was one of the last ships with a riveted hull, and she was a steam ship. Since so little was changed over the years, she is a time capsule of the technology of the immediate port war period.


Today, Britannia is open to the public and is a popular shore excursion during cruise ship calls in Edinburgh, Scotland. She is moored at the Ocean Terminal in the historic Port of Leith, not terribly far from the center of Edinburgh.


There are several reasons Britannia has become a popular attraction. First, as mentioned earlier, she is interesting because of her older technology. Second, she was the scene of historic events and hosted many famous people. But, I think most importantly, the ship is of interest because of the glimpse she offers of the Queen and the Royal Family. Britannia went directly from being a royal residence to being a museum ship. As a result, she did not have to re-created. Moreover, many of the contents are on loan from the royal collections.


Our article about Britannia begins with an introductory piece that tells the ship’s story and provides some information about visiting the ship today. Then we have a multi-page photo tour that includes not just the royal apartments but also the areas where the officers and crew lived and worked.

The article on Britannia begins at


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: