The Britannia anniversary

By | Category: Travel destinations

Britannia © Marc Miller

Today marks the day when, sixty-five years ago, the royal yacht Britannia was launched on the Clyde in Glasgow. This year also marks the twentieth anniversary of Britannia arriving in Edinburgh and being opened to the public for the first time.

During its active service, Britannia sailed over a million miles across the world, on a thousand official visits for the British Royal Family. It was a symbol and ambassador for the Commonwealth and, in her 44 years, played host to over a thousand glittering state banquets and official receptions. Kings and queens, world leaders and celebrities were all wined and dined on board, from Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor to presidents Mandela and Clinton. When she was finally decommissioned it was one of the few occasions that sadness could be seen written all over the Queen’s face revealing to the world exactly how much the ship meant to her.

The first time I went over the ship I was surprised at how small she was and how the furnishings were nothing like as ornate and grand as might be expected of a royal yacht.

Since Britannia arrived in Edinburgh, more than five million people from across the world have stepped aboard and followed in the footsteps of royalty to see where Prince Charles and Princess Diana honeymooned and the young princes, William and Harry spent their school holidays, sailing round the Western Isles of Scotland.

Such an attraction has it become that Britannia has been rated as Scotland’s Best Visitor Attraction for the last 12 years.

Today, Britannia is owned by The Royal Yacht Britannia Trust whose responsibility is to maintain and preserve Britannia in keeping with her former role and to display her to the public as a key part of British maritime history. The Trust is a wholly self-funding, not-for-profit, charitable organisation. Income generated from running the Royal Yacht as a visitor attraction and events venue goes towards preserving the yacht for future generations.

But Britannia isn’t the only vessel owned by the trust. Opening as a luxury hotel later this year is Fingal, a former Northern Lighthouse Board ship which is moored near Britannia.


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