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The Royal Yacht - Britannia

Updated: Oct 24, 2021

One of the highlights of my recent cruise was a visit to Edinburgh. The ship actually docks in Leith, but first of all, you have to access the dock via a lock. Leith is Scotland’s largest enclosed deepwater port with the capability of handling vessels up to 50,000 deadweight tonnes. The maximum ship size normally accepted is 210m x 30m, big enough for the smaller cruise ships that would normally tour the British Isles and Scottish coastline. Being a simple Purser, l do not have the foggiest idea about deadweight, but I am sure I will be enlightened by fellow Salty Seadogs.

We arrived very early and by the time I looked out around seven in the morning we were already through the lock and tied up alongside. The view from our balcony was great as we were overlooking The Royal Yacht Britannia. For years l have wanted to visit Britannia. A friend was a pastry chef on her in the ’70s and had one or two tales to tell.

With an overnight stay in Scotland’s Capital City, the first day was taken up by exploring the city. One of the amazing finds that I had not expected was the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, which is one of the finest botanic gardens in the world as well as being home to a world-renowned centre of botanical science. Covering approx. 72 acres it is an absolute delight to explore and is the home to the world's largest collection of Chinese plants outside China itself. In fact, plants that have become extinct in China have been taken from Edinburgh to be re-established back in their homeland. With only a couple of hours to explore it is defiantly on the list for a return visit.

The Royal Yacht Britannia

Sailing at 2.00 pm, on day two in Edinburgh, leaving just enough time to visit Britannia. A very short walk from our ship and we were embarking on the Royal Yacht. Britannia served the Queen and Royal family for just over forty years. Stepping onboard you immediately realise why the Queen loved her so much and found her very relaxing. She has a very country house feel to her and by today's standards she is a little spartan in places, but l guess when she was built in 1954 she was the height of luxury with state of the art equipment. By the same token, I cannot really see that Princess Diana would have relished her honeymoon on her, for the first time a double bed was installed onboard in the honeymoon suite.

Britannia is so distinctive that no name is visible on her hull. The royal coat of arms flying on the bow side and the royal cipher on her stern were deemed sufficient.

Seaman onboard did not wear their caps at sea, which means the seamen are technically out of uniform and not required to salute, enabling the Queen to walk around the vessel without formal recognition. They were also trained to execute orders on the upper deck, where the Queen's private quarters are situated, without spoken words or commands.

Meanwhile, below decks, accommodation was a little like crew accommodation on the ocean-going liners of the era, six, eight berth and even more to a cabin with ablusions and showers in a communal area at the end of the alleyway. With up to 240 crew onboard this led to little privacy below decks.

As well as being designed as a Royal Yacht, Britannia was also designed to act as a hospital ship in the event of war. As you walk around the ship it becomes obvious by the facilities in the hospital and also the oversized ship's laundry that she has a dual purpose. She also has a garage onboard where one of the Queen’s Roll Royce was carried to be used ashore on official visits.

Britannia carried the Royal family on 968 official voyages. Britannia is said to have traveled over one million miles around the world. The Royal Barge was traditionally used to transport the Royal family to and from The Royal Yacht until she was decommissioned in 1997.

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2 comentários

Jamie, The Purser
Jamie, The Purser
23 de out. de 2021

Excellent report on Edinburgh and the Britannia, however was beginning to think you need a proofreader when your first sentence you refer to the Port of Leigh, but soon fathomed out it was 'finger trouble' when you corrected to Leith, thereon.

Dont knock yourself being a 'Simple' Purser, certainly nothing simple about you, and this amazing website, is proof to your very well educated mind.

Happy you highlighted the Botanical Gardens as we had planned visit too, but when we were there, it was traditional Scottish summer in July 2016, and encountered three days of torrential rain, cool temperatures and high winds, so our tour of the capital city was somewhat curtailed. We did visit Britannia which was well worth…

Salty Seadog
Salty Seadog
24 de out. de 2021
Respondendo a

Thank you Jamie. I cocked up the spelling of Leith a few times and although l went back and correctd some of them, i missed a couple.

Very interesting fact about RY Gothic. I loved my visit around Britannia.

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