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Remembering The Queen - The Yacht - The River -The Platinum Jubilee

Updated: Sep 10, 2022

HM Queen Elizabeth II 1926-2022

Royal Yacht Britannia


On a recent trip to Dartmouth, we were looking across the town towards the Britannia Royal Naval College, commonly known as Dartmouth. Established in 1863 as the naval academy of the UK and the initial training establishment of the Royal Navy. King George V and King George VI were naval cadets at Dartmouth, more recently The Prince of Wales and the Duke of York also attended Dartmouth. Prince William spent a brief period at the College after leaving Sandhurst as part of his training with all three of Britain's Armed Forces.


Britannia - The Royal Naval College at Dartmouth


But more significantly during this Jubilee week, it was the venue where Princess Elizabeth first met Prince Philip of Greece when he was a naval cadet in July 1939. And so, her love of Philip and of the sea began.


Had the Duke of Edinburgh not become the Queen’s husband, some believe he would have been First Sea Lord – the professional head of the Royal Navy. He rose rapidly through the ranks, earning promotion after promotion, but his life was to take a very different course. The duke’s flourishing naval career came to a premature end in 1951. The health of his father-in-law, George VI, was deteriorating and Queen-in-waiting Princess Elizabeth was required to take on more royal responsibilities.










Philip stepped down from his active role in the forces to fulfil his duty as her consort. Princess Elizabeth acceded to the throne within the year when the King died in February 1952.






Another love of the Queen’s life was “The Royal Yacht Britannia” She was launched by Queen Elizabeth II on 16 April 1953 and commissioned on 11 January 1954. Britannia was designed to be converted into a hospital ship in time of war, although this capability was never used. In the event of nuclear war, it was intended for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to take refuge aboard Britannia off the north-west coast of Scotland


The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh embarked on Britannia for the first time in Tobruk on 1 May 1954. The Royal Yacht has been described by the Queen as the place where she could “truly relax.” The Queen had said that “Britannia is to be at times the home of my husband and myself and of our family.”


In addition to being a home for the family, however, it also served a diplomatic role, as a base for state visits and later for trade missions. Indeed, the State Dining Room, the grandest room onboard, was the scene of numerous formal banquets involving many illustrious guests.

Britannia served the Queen until it was decommissioned in 1997.



Queens Silver Jubilee River Pageant 1977

On leave from P&O/Princess cruises at the time, I was asked by P&O Personnel department (Tommy Atkinson) if I would like to take part in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee River Pageant on the Thames. Of course, I jumped at the chance. P&O had decked out a river barge to represent a cruise ship. The front was adorned by large placards advertising P&O Cruises. And the back of the barge represented the poop deck of a ship, where the party was held. P&O shore staff were aboard in their evening dresses and dinner suits. Then us, a handful of serving ship's officers, mostly purser’s staff from the Princess ships as it so happened. We were in full mess kit and of course looking very dapper. This was not to last long.



Dartmouth - Britannia - The Silver Jubilee River Pageant


Mike Smart

At this point, I would like to mention Mike Smart who l was sailing with on the Island Princess. Mike was Deputy Purser/Acting Purser. Mike also on leave had been called upon to organise the catering on the barge. This included lots of smoked salmon and other delicacies and of course a plentiful supply of booze. If you knew Mike, then booze was generally involved.


Sadly, Mike passed away peacefully earlier this year at the age of 82. RIP Mike.


Along with the gathering on the barge was a Jamaican Steel Band who provided excellent music to dance the night away. Boarding the barge at Greenwich pier in the afternoon we made our way to Tower Bridge. If my memory serves me correctly the Queen was positioned at Lambeth Palace. By now the heavens had opened and we were soaked to the skin. All the starch had leaked from the mess kit, and we were drenched and sozzled with champagne, we must have looked a real mess, this did not matter one little bit, sailing under the Thames bridges the rails were packed with revellers cheering us along and dancing to the sound of the river music. Somehow, we got back to Greenwich Pier and five of us squeezed into a Renault 5 and headed back to spend the night on Greg Jackson’s living room floor on Canvey Island.



The Queen and Prince Philip with Lord Sterling Life President of P&O Cruises onboard Gloriana.


Twenty-five years later the Diamond Jubilee River pageant was a slightly more dignified affair with the Queen taking to the water. The parade was led by Gloriana a hand-built row barge, following a design not seen on the Thames for 200 years. Once again P&O was involved in the celebrations. Lord Sterling, the life president of P&O Cruises who organised the Queen's Silver and Golden Jubilees, came up with the idea for the vessel.




Rottingdean in Sussex celebrates the

Platinum Jubilee with flags for the Commonwealth.


Locally one of the best displays for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee was in the seaside village of Rottingdean. Here the local British Legion have erected all the flags of the commonwealth around the village green providing a magnificent display for villagers and visitors to enjoy





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5 Comments


John Cochrane
John Cochrane
Jun 13, 2022

hospital ship, Falklands war , no fuel available in South Atlantic , no Britannia hospital ship in the Falklands war, a joke at the expense of the taxpayer

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John Martin
John Martin
Jun 07, 2022

Lot of familiar flags of the Commonwealth at Rottingdean. Glad to see Kiribati and Nauru flown close together

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Salty Seadog
Salty Seadog
Jun 07, 2022
Replying to

I think they were all flying in alphabetical order. But it needs someone with better knowledge of flag and the Commonwealth to advise me if this was correct.


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John Martin
John Martin
Jun 07, 2022

Jeffrey Sterling fancied his royal connections. Here as plain Mr. when escorting Diana, Princess of Wales at the christening of Royal Princess 15 November 1984 a year after he became Chairman of P&O. Then, as Sir Jeffrey, escorting the Queen to dinner on 'Pacific Princess' at Greenwich 7 July 1987. He had his own 'standard' made after being enobled in 1990 that was kept in all P&O ship's safes to be flown whenever he visited!. All this royalty must have gone to his head.




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Salty Seadog
Salty Seadog
Jun 07, 2022
Replying to

Thanks John for the insight, especially about his standard kept on the ships.

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