Royal Yacht Britannia: Queen's floating palace woos Edinburgh visitors

Sujoy Dhar | @sujoydhar | 26 Oct 2017

Royal Yacht Britannia: Queen's floating palace woos Edinburgh visitors

By the author

If you have the iconic Buckingham Palace in London or the magnificent Windsor Castle nearby in your bucket list of must see residences of Her Majesty, then add one more to it.

Well, if you are visiting the beautiful capital city of Edinburgh in Scotland to soak in its yearlong festivals and amazing hospitality of the Scots, a visit to the spectacular Royal Yacht Britannia should not be missed.

This royal yacht or the floating holiday home of the Queen had sailed for over one million miles from 1954 to 1997, carrying the Queen, the King and other royal family members to distant shores, completing some 696 foreign visits.

Caption: The dinning room for royal guests

Retired from service in 1997, Britannia is now a magnet of tourists visiting Edinburgh since it is permanently berthed at Ocean Terminal, Leith, in Edinburgh.

Britannia was launched from the John Brown & Company shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland on 16 April, 1953. For over 44 years she served the Royal Family, sailing to different countries as the most iconic ship in the world.

To the Queen, Britannia proved to be the perfect Royal residence for glittering state visits, official receptions, Royal honeymoons and relaxing family holidays.

For Great Britain, she was a majestic symbol of the Commonwealth and a proud ambassador.

Caption: The drawing room of Queen

The Queen about the yacht had said it is “one place where I can truly relax.”

This is the yacht in which Prince Charles and Princess Diana had sailed on their honeymoon to the Mediterranean in 1981. So as you step inside the yacht and walk through its corridors and decks, you discover the room in which the royal couple had stayed together.

You actually discover what life was like on board Her Majesty's floating Royal residence viewing the rooms of the Queen Elizabeth, the King (Duke of Edinburgh) besides royal dining and drawing rooms, the bars of the crew members and the shimmering tea sets or candle stands.

On board you follow in the footsteps of world leaders such as Sir Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Rajiv Gandhi, all of whom had been hosted on the yacht by the Queen.

Caption: The honeymoon room of Charles and Diana

As you explore Britannia's five decks with highlights including the elegant Royal Apartments, Crew's Quarters, Engine Room and stunning Royal Deck Tea Room, you can get a good commentary with the free audio guide provided to visitors.  

The visit to the yacht is also discovering the private, refined taste of the Queen. Despite its royal halo, there is a simplicity and minimalism in the taste of the Queen for sure. Reports said the Queen and the King had rejected the lavishness of its interior by the original designers and chose something more like a country house décor that goes with the postwar period. 

Here you can also have refreshment in a stunning Royal Deck Tea Room. 

And yes, you can wrap up the royal visit with a few purchases in the Gift Shop in the terminal at the entry point.

Caption: Queen's Rolls Royce 

Royal Yacht Britannia Highlights

Fabulous State Apartments and Royal Bedrooms
The relaxing Sun Lounge
The stunning Royal Deck Tea Room
Life below decks in the Sick Bay and the Laundry
Sample home-made fudge in the NAAFI sweet shop
The onboard Rolls-Royce Phantom V, that used to travel on Britannia
The Gleaming Engine Room
Royal Racing Yacht Bloodhound

Visiting Time

Britannia is open every day, except Christmas Day and New Year's Day. A tour of the ship can be completed in 2 hours.  For the months of January, February, March, November, December, the admission time is between 10 am and 3-30 am. For April, May, June, July, August, September it is between 9.30 am and 4.30pm. In October it is between 9.30am to 4.00pm. The ticket for an adult is £15.50.

(The article was orginally written for Tribune newspaper by the author) 

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