Do you remember the news coverage of HM The Queen or members of her family on board the Royal Yacht Britannia? One of the most iconic photographs has to be Princess Diana with her arms wide open, welcoming Princes William and Harry on board in Toronto.
The Royal Yacht Britannia – A Palace on The Sea
The Royal Yacht Britannia was very special to The Queen. For 44 years, this floating palace was on one of the Royal Family’s homes. It was also home to over 200 Royal Yachtsmen and women who served onboard. Like Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and The Palace of Holyroodhouse, the yacht was a working palace, and an important part of royal life. I visited when I was in Edinburgh recently.
From the area below decks used by the officers and crew to The Queen’s favourite sun room, the Royal Yacht Britannia sits almost frozen in time. The red carpet is rolled out, and the Queen’s Rolls Royce awaits on the quayside. It is as if the yacht is waiting for the family she served so loyally to return.
Most of the ship is open to visitors, and you can even rent the ship for private events. The Royal Family used the yacht for both state visits and family holidays. You might be surprised by how simply and cosily it is decorated. Nothing was ever needlessly replaced.
The Private Areas of The Royal Yacht Britannia
The Queen’s bedroom (above) is an adjoining room with the Duke of Edinburgh’s bedroom. The honeymoon suite (below) was installed on the yacht for The Prince and Princess of Wales. This is the only double bed on board.
Many important guests were entertained on board The Royal Yacht Britannia. These rooms were also used by The Queen and her family for private engagements. This cosy – if very large – living room has a grand piano that was once played by Sir Noel Coward (just out of shot).
The State Dining Room seats up to 96 for dinner.
I almost forgot I was on a ship when I was visiting this part of the yacht. It really is like nothing I have ever seen before. The Royal Yacht held a special place in The Queen’s heart, and the day it was decommissioned in 1997 is one of the only times The Queen wept in public.
You can see many more of the rooms used by the Royal Family, as well as the living and working quarters of the Royal Yachtsmen who lived on board when you follow the self-guided tour of The Royal Yacht Britannia. If you are planning a visit to Edinburgh, I definitely recommend it!
Adult admission is £16.50 at time of writing, and discounts are available for children and senior citizens. Children under 5 visit free, and family tickets are available.