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What Happened To The Royal Yacht Britannia After It Was Decommissioned?

The event was one of the extremely rare displays of emotions from the queen.

screenshot of Queen Elizabeth looking emotional in a circle frame over a photo of the Brittannia yacht

If you’ve binged season five of The Crown , then you’ll be familiar with the Royal Yacht Britannia . As dramatized in the series, Queen Elizabeth’s beloved yacht was decommissioned in 1997. However, that wasn’t the end of the famous seacraft’s story. Here’s where the Royal Yacht Britannia is today.

The Britannia Began Sailing In 1954

Originally commissioned for her father, King George VI, Queen Elizabeth oversaw the construction of the Royal Yacht Britannia . She and Prince Philip advised the ship’s design, offering input on the furnishings of each room. Philip later said in a 1995 documentary about the yacht that this is what made the seacraft so special to him and Elizabeth.

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“I suppose Britannia was rather special as far as we were concerned because we were involved from the very beginning in organizing the design and furnishing and equipping and hanging the pictures and everything else,” he explained. “For us it was rather special because all the other places we live in have been built by our predecessors. They started building Windsor 1,000 years ago, and they built Balmoral 100 years ago, and they built Sandringham 70 or 90 years ago. So we, in a sense, had our own.”

Queen Elizabeth and her family took countless trips on the yacht. The queen even stated that the yacht was the one place she could truly relax, though it did far more than that. The craft was used to evacuate over 1,000 refugees from Yemen in 1981. It’s been used to greet presidents and take royals on their honeymoons. Prince Charles and Princess Diana took their own honeymoon cruise on the yacht before it was decommissioned on December 11, 1997.

The Royal Yacht Britannia Is Now A Museum

After it was decommissioned in 1997, the ship became part of the National Historic Fleet and was moored in the historic Port of Leith in Edinburgh, Scotland. The ship is now maintained by the Royal Yacht Britannia Trust, a registered non-profit, and it serves as a museum . There was certainly a strong effort within the British government to greenlight plans for a new royal yacht, although the extravagance of such a move proved unattractive for both politicians and the royal family.

Tourists can now board the famous ship, peek inside its many rooms, and even have a meal in the Royal Deck Tea Room. The ship has been preserved to appear the same as it did when it was sailing. All of the clocks onboard were even stopped at 3:01 p.m., the exact time Queen Elizabeth last departed the ship. However, the yacht hasn’t lost its royal connection entirely. It is still rented out periodically for special events. Notably, Zara Tindall held a cocktail reception on the yacht the night before her wedding to Mike Tindall.

Last year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans to construct another royal yacht . However, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently announced that the £250 million plan was trashed . Given the gigantic cost of such an endeavor, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see another royal yacht sail the English Channel.

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Where is the Royal Yacht Britannia and why was it decommissioned?

what happened to royal yacht britannia after it was decommissioned

Queen Elizabeth’s farewell to the Royal Yacht in 1997 was one of the only occasions in her 70-year-reign that Her Majesty publicly shed a tear.

Almost 25 years ago, HMY Britannia left Portsmouth for a farewell tour around the UK . It went to six major ports across the UK, including Glasgow.

Why was the Royal Yacht Britannia decommissioned and where is it today?

Why was it decommissioned?

The Royal Yacht was decommissioned in 1994 by John Major’s Government because “the costs were too great”, according to the official website.

The decision was made after the Royal Yacht was used for a long and successful journey spanning 44 years and travelling more than one million miles across the globe.

The issue of a new royal yacht became a political issue in the run-up to the 1997 General Election, when the new Labour Government came into power.

After the election, Tony Blair’s Government confirmed in October 1997 there would be no replacement for Britannia.

It marked the end of a long tradition of British royal yachts, dating back to 1660 and the reign of Charles II.

Where is the HMY Britannia?

Britannia is permanently berthed at Ocean Terminal, Leith, in Edinburgh, Scotland .

Today, the Royal yacht is open to curious visitors and welcomes more than 300,000 visits each year.

Britannia was launched in 1953 from the John Brown and Company shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland .

Its purpose was to serve the Royal Family and it was the first to be built with complete ocean-going capacity, designed as a royal residence to entertain guests around the world.

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For more than 44 years, it travelled more than one million miles with Her Majesty for state visits, official receptions, royal honeymoons, and relaxing family holidays.

Britannia quickly became one of the most famous ships in the world and now stands as a majestic symbol of Great Britain.

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What Happened to the Royal Yacht Britannia?

By Elise Taylor

Image may contain Transportation Vehicle Yacht Boat Person Officer Captain Flag Clothing Hat and People

The Crown season five begins and ends with the same plot point: The Royal Yacht Britannia. The vessel serves as a—fairly obvious—metaphor in the first episode, where Imelda Staunton’s Queen Elizabeth describes it as “a floating, seagoing version of me.” The problem with her metaphorical marine self? It’s in desperate need of multi-million dollar repairs. 

She asks British prime minister John Major, played by Jonny Lee Miller, whether the government might be able to help foot the bill. He, in turn, asks if the royal family might front the cost, given the public pushback they both might receive if such a seemingly extravagant project was approved. In the final episode of the season (a note to the reader: spoilers will follow), Tony Blair and Queen Elizabeth agree to decommission the yacht after Prince Charles’s trip to Hong Kong.

The Crown is known for taking much of its plot material from real-life events. In the case of the Royal Yacht Britannia, though—what really happened to the boat, and how much political controversy did it really cause?

To go back to the beginning, King George VI first commissioned the royal yacht that would become the Britannia in 1952. It was an exciting project, as the previous official boat had belonged to Queen Victoria, and was rarely used. (Queen Victoria, for one, did not like the water and never sailed.) Then, during the early 20th century, England was mostly at war, and making a massive, slow-sailing luxury ship would be a massive security risk in international waters. 

The Royal Yacht Britannia, George decided, should both be an extravagant vessel and a functional one, able to double as a hospital if times of war were to arise again. In 1953, the newly-crowned Queen Elizabeth christened the ship with a bottle of wine, as champagne was still seen as too extravagant post-war. In 1954, she set sail for the first time.

The Royal Yacht fulfilled many functions, most of them leisurely. Over the years, the boat hosted four royal honeymoons, including that of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, as well as many family vacations. In 1969, after his investiture as the Prince of Wales, Charles hosted an intimate party on board to celebrate. (Newspapers at the time wrote that he danced with his dear friend Lucia Santa Cruz —the very person who eventually introduced him to Camilla Parker Bowles.)

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It also served as a grandiose mode of transport for many royal visits. In 1959, for example, Britannia sailed to Chicago to celebrate the recently-opened St. Lawrence seaway in Canada, and President Eisenhower joined her on board. Twenty years later, she sailed to Abu Dhabi for her first official visit to the United Arab Emirates, where she held a grand dinner for Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

And although Queen Elizabeth's reign was not during wartime, the royal yacht did execute a humanitarian mission, as King George VI had always planned for: In 1986, it sailed to Aden to evacuate over 1,000 refugees from the civil war in Yemen.

The New York Times once described the 412-foot Britannia as “an ordinary yacht what Buckingham Palace is to the house next door.” It wasn’t an exaggeration—Britannia was essentially a floating palace. It had a drawing room, a dining room, two sitting rooms, as well as galleys and cabins for all the officers. The stateroom interiors were just as ornate as any other royal estate, while the bedrooms—which all had their own bathrooms and dressing rooms—were designed to feel surprisingly personal. 

“Within the royal apartments, however, the regal elegance gives way to the homey, patched elbow chic of an English country house, with flowered chintz slipcovers, family photographs, and rattan settees, interspersed with the occasional relic of Empire—shark's teeth from the Solomon Islands here, a golden urn commemorating Nelson's victory at Trafalgar there,” the New York Times found when it boarded the ship in 1976.

Image may contain Indoors Waiting Room Room Reception Room Reception Home Decor Building and Living Room

The cost of running Britannia was always an issue. Politicians raised questions about its financial value as far back as 1954, when two MPs lobbied for an investigation on why the yacht’s refurbishment would cost 5.8 million pounds, accusing the royal family of waste and extravagance. A government committee later dismissed the accusations. In 1994, the Conservative government ruled the yacht too costly to refurbish, when repairs came in at a whopping 17 million, but then briefly walked back on their decision a few years later. 

However, when Tony Blair’s Labour government won the election, and the new government once again declined to pay for Britannia. Britannia’s final journey was to far-flung Hong Kong in 1997, as Prince Charles turned over the British colony back to the Chinese at the end of Britain's 99-year lease. When they finally decommissioned the boat that summer, the queen cried—one of the few times she’s shown emotion in public. The boat had logged over one million nautical miles.

Today, Britannia sits permanently docked in Edinburgh. Visitors can take tours of its grand galleys, or even rent it out for events. Yet, despite its retirement, the concept of the royal yacht lives on: In 2021, Boris Johnson floated the idea of a new boat. However, a mere eight days ago, Rishi Sunak has scrapped the project—showing that, even now, the concept remains a controversial one.

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When was the Royal Yacht Britannia decommissioned? Where it is moored now and the history of the ship

The yacht is now a permanent visitor attraction in port leith, edinburgh.

MUSCAT, OMAN - FEBRUARY 29: Queen Elizabeth ll and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh entertain Sultan Qaboos on board the royal Yacht Britannia during a State Visit to Oman on February 29, 1979 in Muscat, Oman. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

Season five of The Crown starts in 1991 with the fictional Queen all-but-demanding a new Royal Yacht from then-Prime Minister John Major.

The luxurious yacht was a mainstay for Elizabeth II and Prince Philip , and comfortably carried the royals and dignitaries across the globe between 1953 and 1997.

King Charles II first launched the idea that a personal boat was essential for a ruling monarch, and by the time Elizabeth II acceded to the throne the Royal Yacht had evolved into a vessel of opulence, designed for long journeys and luxurious holiday cruises.

The Royal Yacht Britannia had spacious cabins, an onboard car garage, sun lounge, drawing room, plush bedrooms and amenities for 220 crewmembers (including several bars and pubs).

What happened to the Royal Yacht Britannia?

The first episode of the new season of The Crown shows the Queen lobbying for a new boat to replace the out-dated Royal Yacht Britannia. However, the replacement vessel never came to fruition.

In 2018, The Times reported that the Queen had “secretly lobbied Whitehall” in 1995, when senior Buckingham Palace official, Sir Kenneth Scott, wrote to the Cabinet Office saying that the Queen would “very much welcome” a replacement for the Royal Yacht Britannia.

The letter, found in the National Archive, said: “I have deliberately taken a back seat in recent correspondence, since the question of whether there should be a replacement yacht is very much one for the Government and since the last thing I would like to see is a newspaper headline saying ‘Queen Demands New Yacht’.

“At the same time I hope it is clear to all concerned that this reticence on the part of the palace in no way implies that Her Majesty is not deeply interested in the subject; on the contrary, the Queen would naturally very much welcome it if a way could be found of making available for the nation in the 21st Century the kind of service which Britannia has provided for the last 43 years.”

The Queen was later photographed crying as the boat moored in Portsmouth after its final journey.

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When was the Royal Yacht Britannia decommissioned?

Despite the monarch’s love of the yacht, Britannia was decommissioned in 1997 after Tony Blair was voted into power.

However, Boris Johnson imagined a new Royal Yacht to replace Britannia . The project was later scrapped – making it the fourth plan of his to have been axed at a total cost of more than £51m to the British taxpayer.

Rishi Sunak abandoned plans for the flagship, which would have been used to drive trade deals in the post-Brexit Britain , as he embarked on an agenda of cutting spending in the Autumn Statement .

Building the ship, which was set to launch by the end of 2024, would have cost in the region of £250m.

Where is the Royal Yacht Britannia now?

The yacht is now a permanent attraction in Port Leith, Edinburgh, and welcomes up to 300,000 visitors a year.

There was controversy over the siting of the ship, with some arguing that it would be better moored on the River Clyde, where it was built, than in Edinburgh. However, the ship’s positioning in Leith coincided with a redevelopment of the harbour area, and the advent of Scottish devolution.

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A Sombre Farewell

On 23 June 1994, John Major's Government announced there would be no refit for HMY Britannia as the costs would be too great. After a long and successful career spanning 44 years and travelling over 1 million miles around the globe, it was announced that the last Royal Yacht was to be decommissioned.

There was no immediate decision about a replacement, but the question of a new Royal Yacht became a political issue in the run up to the 1997 General Election. After the election, the new Labour Government eventually confirmed in October 1997 there would be no replacement for Britannia . 

Royal Yacht Britannia Tower Bridge

Final Voyage

On 20 October 1997, HMY Britannia left Portsmouth on her farewell tour around the UK. This was a clockwise circumnavigation of Britain, calling at six major ports, including Glasgow. As she sailed past John Brown's Shipyard, she gave a blast on her sirens, in fond farewell to the yard which had proudly built her.

Royal Family RYB

Day of Decommissioning

It was a sad day when the Royal Family finally bid farewell to a ship that had so faithfully served her family and her country for over forty years. All the clocks on Britannia were stopped at 15:01, the time Queen Elizabeth II was piped ashore for the last time. This was one of the few occasions Queen Elizabeth II publicly shed a tear as The Band of HM Royal Marines played the highly emotive 'Highland Cathedral.'

Visiting Britannia

Tripadvisor’s No.1 UK Attraction 2023

what happened to royal yacht britannia after it was decommissioned

Start your tour at our entrance, currently located on the Ground Floor of Ocean Terminal. Please note that tickets purchased in person are by card/contactless only. 

Please pre-book your tickets to guarantee admission.

Due to upcoming construction work at Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre , Britannia will be closed 25-28 June.

Click on the Visit page  for more information before you visit.

Step aboard to enjoy a great day out!

Fingal Hotel

Get away from the everyday aboard Britannia’s sister ship, Fingal.  Extend your visit with a stay in one of Fingal’s luxurious cabins, your own oasis by the sea. 

AA Hotel of the Year Scotland, AA five-star hotel and 2 AA Rosettes

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What really happened to Royal Yacht Britannia from ‘The Crown’ Season 5?

what happened to royal yacht britannia after it was decommissioned

LONDON — The much-hyped fifth season of “The Crown” opens with a heavy-handed metaphor weighing approximately 4,000 tons.

It’s 1953, and a young Queen Elizabeth II, a month before her coronation, is in Scotland to launch the new royal yacht, the Britannia. “I hope this brand-new vessel, like your brand-new queen, will prove to be dependable and constant, capable of weathering any storm,” she declares to great applause.

And so the queen and her ship are inextricably linked as the Netflix TV show fast-forwards to 1991, when questions about costly repairs for the Britannia are presented in parallel to questions about whether the 65-year-old queen is too old for her role.

King Charles III wants to look ahead. ‘The Crown’ drags him back.

There is no missing that this is a narrative device in a series now labeled a “fictional dramatization.” But the episode’s release this week has renewed interest in the history of the royal yacht and ignited a debate about how the British monarch interacted with her government. It also happened to coincide with a modern-day echo of 1991, as new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, facing a recession, sank plans for a replacement royal yacht.

What to know about Britannia, ‘the floating palace’

There is a real Royal Yacht Britannia, and, as in the show, the young queen really did announce its name and christen it with a bottle of Empire wine. (Though not with a self-referential speech.)

The Britannia was the latest in a series of royal yachts dating back to 1660 and King Charles II . In 44 years of service, the ship sailed more than 1 million nautical miles — equivalent to more than 40 circumnavigations of Earth — calling at more than 600 ports in 135 countries and projecting British influence around the world.

The Britannia was used for state visits and receptions, royal family holidays and honeymoons. Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton all spent time on board, as did Boris Yeltsin and Nelson Mandela. When civil war broke out in South Yemen in 1986, the yacht was rerouted to help evacuate civilians.

“The Crown” suggests the yacht was the queen’s favorite “home,” cherished even more than Balmoral in the Scottish highlands. Biographers don’t dispute that this could have been true. In his book “Queen of Our Times,” Robert Hardman writes, “There were few places where the Queen would be happier.”

Although served by a crew of 220, the ship was a place where the royal family could relax and escape the watchful eye of the public. Hugh Casson, who designed the interior, once recounted, “the overall idea was to give the impression of a country house at sea.” Prince Philip, the queen’s husband, was fascinated with the birds he saw during voyages in the 1950s and even published a book titled “Birds from Britannia.”

Did the queen lobby for repairs?

The controversial part of “The Crown” portrayal centers on whether the queen actively lobbied Prime Minister John Major for the government to pay for extensive repairs — which could have amounted to inappropriate interference in politics by a constitutional monarch.

She says in the show: “Here I am, coming to you, prime minister, on bended knee, for the sign-off, but I’m hoping that will be a formality.”

The character of Major, who was prime minister during a tough recession, responds by suggesting the royal yacht is “something of a luxury” and that spending public money on it while the economy is in the tank would not be good for the government or the royal family.

The queen persists, arguing that the yacht is “a central and indispensable part of the way the crown serves the nation” and “a floating, seagoing expression of me.”

The queen-ship metaphor is dragged out in a later conversation, when the character of Prince Charles — impatient to be king — tells Major about the Britannia: “Sometimes these old things are too costly to keep repairing.”

So did any of that actually take place?

The real-life Major has called the show’s imagined conversations “a barrel-load of nonsense.”

Robert Lacey, a historical consultant on “The Crown,” defended the depiction. He told The Washington Post that the subject of the yacht would have inevitably come up between the queen and the prime minister, who met once a week to discuss matters of state.

“She certainly spoke about it to the prime minister,” Lacey said. “Obviously, the royal family would have lobbied for it. The queen did want another royal yacht.”

Hardman, the royal biographer, insisted that while the queen no doubt would have been interested in repairs or a replacement, she would not have “leaned on her prime ministers for money.”

In a letter written in 1994, later stored in the National Archives, the queen’s deputy private secretary Kenneth Scott wrote to the cabinet office that “the Queen would naturally very much welcome it if a way could be found of making available for the nation in the 21st century the kind of service which Britannia has provided for the last 43 years.”

Scott noted, however, that “the question of whether there should be a replacement yacht is very much one for the government” and “the last thing I should like to see is a newspaper headline saying ‘Queen Demands New Yacht.’”

The Times of London headline when the letter was uncovered in 2018: “ I want a new yacht, Queen told Whitehall in secret letter .”

What happened to the Britannia?

Major’s government wasn’t swayed by arguments to repair or renew the ship. Even with a retrofit costing an estimated 17 million pounds, the Britannia would be expensive to run and hard to maintain. It was hard to justify when air travel was a readily available alternative for royal trips and trade missions.

The yacht’s final voyage abroad was to Hong Kong in 1997, when the territory was handed back to China. A few months later, the Britannia undertook a farewell tour of Britain, calling at six major ports and blasting its sirens as it passed the shipyard that built it, before returning for a decommissioning ceremony in Portsmouth, England on Dec. 11, 1997. The ship’s clocks were stopped. The Royal Marines band played. Lacey noted: “The only time the queen was seen to cry was when the royal yacht was de-commissioned.”

The ship is now a visitor attraction site in Edinburgh, Scotland. On the day of the queen’s state funeral in September, a lone piper played a lament on the deck.

What about plans for a replacement royal yacht?

The possibility of a replacement yacht gained some traction during the 1997 general election, but the incoming Labour government nixed the idea.

More than two decades later, as part of a campaign to promote a reinvigorated “Global Britain” in the aftermath of Brexit, Prime Minister Boris Johnson proposed a new royal yacht . There was a push to name the ship after Prince Philip, who died last year, though it would be more for the government than for the royal family. In Johnson’s vision, the ship would tour the world as a “floating embassy,” where officials would host summits and cement trade deals. It would cost an estimated 250 million pounds to build, plus 30 million pounds a year to run.

But once again, the economic climate is not favorable for big yacht projects. The new Sunak administration announced this week that it was terminating the royal yacht plan and would instead procure a surveillance ship that could protect energy cables and other infrastructure. The prime minister’s spokesman said it was “right to prioritize at a time when difficult spending decisions need to be made.”

what happened to royal yacht britannia after it was decommissioned

Inside ‘Britannia,’ Queen Elizabeth II’s Floating Palace

The Royal Yacht, according to Her Majesty, was “the one place where I can truly relax.”

hmy britannia

But Britannia was far more than a posh royal cruise liner. She was a showcase for cutting-edge naval engineering and the first royal yacht that could do double duty as a floating hospital in wartime, if necessary. In 1986, for instance, she rescued more than 1,000 refugees from South Yemen. Over the course of her 44 years in service, Britannia facilitated 968 official visits and traveled over one million nautical miles.

royal yacht britannia

She was also, of course, a time capsule of the best British design of the time, in terms of both technological prowess and decoration. Read on for more about the ship’s history, and where the Royal Yacht Britannia is now (hint: You can visit !).

What’s the backstory of Britannia ?

This history of royal liners goes back centuries. In fact, Britannia was the 83rd royal yacht; the first, HMY Mary, was constructed in 1660 by the Dutch East India Company and given as a gift to Charles II. Britannia ’s predecessor, Victoria & Albert III, was completed in 1901 and used by Edward II up through George VI, but was decommissioned in 1939 and eventually broken up as scrap. A new yacht was commissioned on February 4, 1952, in an effort to help King George VI’s health, according to the Royal Yacht Britannia museum, but the king died just two days later. The task to oversee the construction of the new yacht, then, fell on the young Queen Elizabeth II.

royal yacht britannia at sea

Who Built the Royal Yacht Britannia ?

Britannia was designed by John Brown & Co., the same marine engineering firm that built the RMS Lusitania and the Queen Mary. Construction on Britannia began in June 1952, and she was launched in a ceremony on April 16, 1953. The young queen didn’t reveal the name of the liner until her televised address in which she proudly stated before roaring crowds, “I name this ship Britannia .” Notably, a bottle of wine as opposed to the more traditional Champagne, was smashed across the ship’s bow during the christening—Champagne would have been much too ostentatious amid postwar austerity.

Who designed the Royal Yacht Britannia ’s interiors?

According to a technical paper presented to the Institution of Naval Architects in the spring of 1954, the royal and state apartments were to be on par with those of a first-class ocean liner. “The suitability of the decorative design and the furnishing of the Royal and State apartments has, of course, been very important,” the paper noted.

royal yacht britannia

At first, Patrick McBride of the Glasgow, Scotland–based firm, McInnes Gardner & Partners, was selected to design the interiors, but the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh rejected those plans, deeming them too lavish, according to the Royal Yacht Britannia museum. Sir Hugh Casson, the director of architecture at the 1951 Festival of Britain, was the perfect candidate, with his modern eye and lack of ostentation. The design, the architect later wrote in his diary, “was really running a lawn mower over the Louis XVIl adornments. I was going to concentrate on one-color carpet throughout, which was sort of lilac/gray, and all the walls would be white. The only enrichments would be a bit of gilding in grand places.”

royal yacht britannia

Working with Casson, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were highly involved, giving input for everything ranging from the furniture (much of it salvaged from the vessel’s predecessor, Victoria & Albert III , as another way to appear thrifty) to the ship’s blue exterior paint, inspired by the Duke of Edinburgh’s racing yacht, Bluebottle. Apartments featured a design like an elegant-yet-muted English country house, filled with floral sofas and antiques. The state drawing room could accommodate up to 250 guests. The Queen’s favorite room was the sun lounge, with its warm teak walls and rattan furnishings, and views across the veranda deck.

royal yacht britannia

“I suppose Britannia was rather special as far as we were concerned because we were involved from the very beginning in organizing the design and furnishing and equipping and hanging the pictures and everything else,” Prince Philip said in a 1995 documentary film about the yacht. “For us it was rather special because all the other places we live in have been built by our predecessors. They started building Windsor 1,000 years ago, and they built Balmoral 100 years ago, and they built Sandringham 70 or 90 years ago. So we, in a sense, had our own.”

So successful was the partnership that Casson would go on to become a dear friend of the royal family and design interiors for Buckingham Palace, Balmoral , and Windsor Castle

royal yacht britannia

Britannia was also a second home for the royal children. Each was given a member of the crew or “sea daddy” to look after them. “We found as children that there was so much to do, we expended so much energy that we couldn’t describe our time on the yacht as a rest,” Princess Anne said. Milk was delivered fresh from a farmer each day for the royal children, according to letters from the ship’s Acting Captain J. S. Dalglish. Later, the yacht would become the venue for numerous royal honeymoons and vacations, including Princess Diana and Prince Charles’s infamous 1981 Mediterranean cruise.

Where is the Royal Yacht Britannia Now?

As documented in season 5 of The Crown , the Royal Yacht was decommissioned on December 11, 1997, at a ceremony in Portsmouth, U.K., after nearly half a century in service and having traveled more than one million nautical miles. In addition to Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward all attended the ceremony. As the British ensign was lowered to the tune of a navy band, Her Majesty was photographed blinking back tears .

queen crying at britannia

Britannia was retired to Port of Leith in Edinburgh. Today, as one of the most popular tourist sites in the U.K., she serves as a museum and receives some 350,000 visitors per year who can tour the State dining room, the Queen’s bedroom, and sun lounge, as well as view the engine room and crew’s cabins. Visitors can even have tea and scones on the royal deck. The majority of the items on display are original to the yacht and are on loan from the Royal Collection.

zara phillips and mike tindall host pre wedding party on britannia

In a bizarre 21st-century twist, former British prime minister Boris Johnson announced plans to build a Britannia successor, a £250 million yet-to-be-named, taxpayer-funded superyacht to operate as a “floating embassy.” The new British prime minister, Rishi Sunak, recently torpedoed those plans in favor of building a surveillance ship.

Headshot of Anna Fixsen

Anna Fixsen, Deputy Digital Editor at ELLE DECOR, focuses on how to share the best of the design world through in-depth reportage and online storytelling. Prior to joining the staff, she has held positions at Architectural Digest, Metropolis, and Architectural Record magazines. elledecor.com 

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'The Crown': The Real History of the Royal Yacht Britannia and Its Significance to the Queen

Britannia served the Queen and her family until the very end.

The penultimate season of The Crown starts by going back to a scene in 1953 when Queen Elizabeth II is seen launching the Royal Yacht Britannia and without a doubt, the yacht itself becomes the first issue of contention in what is another season of The Crown that focuses on one of the most contentious decades in the lives of the royal family.

Commissioned in 1954, Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia necessitates repair – an act that's costly for the government to bear. In the first episode "Queen Victoria Syndrome," when Queen Elizabeth II ( Imelda Staunton ) requests Prime Minister John Major ( Jonny Lee Miller ) to incur the expenses for the yacht's repair, she finds herself disappointed as the Prime Minister reminds the Queen of the scrutiny such a big public expenditure will attract. This hesitation on the part of the Prime Minister to agree to the repair easily sends the Queen, who's already on the brink of dwindling popularity, into an emotional tizzy. Queen Elizabeth II reminds John Major that she expects her minor requests to be fulfilled in return for her service to the nation. It's clearly hinted that the Queen feels a deeper connection with Britannia – one which she compares to that of a home – as the Queen's relationship with Britannia is nearly as old as her relationship with the crown. In tracing the journey of Britannia, one can trace the journey of the Queen herself.

Before Britannia found its way to the heart of Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family, Victoria & Albert III, which was built for Queen Victoria, served the royal family for 38 years. Although it was named after Queen Victoria, she never stepped foot on it. Eventually, the former royal yacht was decommissioned in 1954. The requirement for a new royal yacht soon emerged under the reign of King George VI. The King wanted the ship to be more than just a luxury. Hence, the ship was supposed to also serve as a hospital during the war, the opportunity for which never came. Also, it was hoped that the yacht will help the King cope with the troubles of his ailing health. Finally, on February 4, 1952, the John Brown & Co shipyard in Clydebank received the order for a new ship that would go on to become the Britannia. Unfortunately, just two days after the order was given, King George VI passed away, an event that sets into motion the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, who was pushed into the role of the monarch suddenly.

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Queen Elizabeth II Introduced Britannia To The World

Upon the demise of King George VI, the responsibility to look over the construction and commissioning of Britannia fell on the Queen herself, and it was a responsibility that she fulfilled in glorious fashion as the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were closely involved in the pre-commission years of the royal yacht. The original design was proposed by the design firm McInnes Gardner & Partner, but the design was judged to be too lavish for a country recovering from the aftermath of a war. Hence, the Queen and the Duke opted for a design in tune with the times. In fact, the Queen herself picked the color of the paint for the walls and the woodwork and metalwork. As clarified by the Queen in "Queen Victoria Syndrome," the yacht meant more than a luxury for the Royal Highness.

Among the many residences that Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip owned, Britannia was one that reflected the Queen's preferences the most for what a dream house would look like. Although a home away at sea, Britannia was easily the dearest of all places for the Queen who witnessed her home's construction as well as her disassembly all in one lifetime. As shown in the first episode of Season 5, when Queen Elizabeth II proudly introduced the ship to the world by saying, "I name this ship Britannia… I wish success to her and all who sail in her," she was introducing the world to something extremely personal; something that she was highly proud of – her very own home. Britannia was launched by the Queen on April 16, 1953 , and commissioned on January 11, 1954. Royal Yacht Britannia served Prince Charles and Princess Anne on her maiden voyage, taking them to the Queen and the Duke at the end of the royals' Commonwealth tour. The senior royals were also hosted by the royal yacht in May of the same year.

Royal Yacht Britannia Was Integral To The Royal Family's Life

Britannia was not merely a means of transport for the royal family. Instead, the royal yacht had become an essential part of the royals' lives by the end of its 44-year-long tenure. Britannia was a constant companion of the Queen on many historic visits. In 1959, Britannia took the Queen to Chicago for an event that celebrated the opening of the St. Lawrence seaway in Canada. During the visit, President Dwight Eisenhower was hosted on board. Aboard Britannia, the Queen also traveled to the UAE for her first official visit. In 1986, the royal yacht was sent on a rescue mission to save refugees from the civil war in Yemen , fulfilling King George's dream of having a royal yacht that also served the people in times of distress. Over the million miles that the yacht traversed, Britannia hosted many more dignitaries such as Presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill, among others.

The royalty of the yacht also matched that of the many other residences with royal bedrooms, a 56-seat dining room, drawing rooms, and ample cabins for the officers. The yacht also contained a garage for the Queen's Rolls-Royce which served her on all visits. The yacht was also a vacation home for the royal family on the Western Isles tour, which the family would undertake during the summers. The Britannia has taken the Queen on many journeys to her castle at Balmoral, the Queen's summer retreat.

Britannia Hosted Multiple Royal Honeymoons

Britannia was also dear to the other royals in the family as well. Using Britannia for the royal honeymoon was a tradition instated by Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones in 1960. Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips were also hosted on board for their royal honeymoon in 1973. Probably the most famous royal couple of them all, Prince Charles and Princess Diana also spent their honeymoon on Britannia, away from the media. The string of royal honeymoons on Britannia came to an end with Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson's journey in 1986. Although all these couples later parted ways, Britannia definitely proved to be the perfect host for them in the happier times of their lives.

Queen Elizabeth II Bid Farewell To Britannia With Heavy Heart

By the beginning of the 1990s, Britannia was already in its waning years as, naturally, more than 40 years of service had begun taking a toll on her. Season 5 of The Crown also focuses on this phase of Britannia, when questions around the repair and replacement of Britannia started coming into focus. Episode 1 of Season 5 of The Crown portrays the Queen directly asking Prime Minister Major for a "sign-off" on the repairs of the Britannia. However, it cannot be confirmed whether the Queen really made a request to the Prime Minister directly.

In 1994, the Conservative government headed by Prime Minister Major announced that Britannia will be decommissioned in 1997 owing to the massive cost of keeping the aged royal yacht running. In 2018, it was revealed by The Times that a senior official in Buckingham Palace had written to the cabinet office in 1995, expressing the Queen's welcoming stance on a replacement for Britannia. The mentioned letter was discovered in the national archive. With the general elections approaching in 1997, Britannia's existence became a national issue again with the Tories going back on their decision regarding the Britannia's decommissioning in hopes of finding some favor with the public. But fates had different things in store for Royal Yacht Britannia as the majority win by Tony Blair in 1997 sealed the fate of the yacht for once and for all.

In 1997, Britannia was finally decommissioned post its last voyage , taking Prince Charles to Hong Kong and back after the handover of the former colony to the People's Republic of China on July 1. The Queen's affection for the royal yacht found its strongest expression when she and Prince Philip were seen wiping tears off their face during the decommissioning ceremony at Portsmouth. Bidding farewell to her dear Britannia, the Queen said, "Looking back over forty-four years we can all reflect with pride and gratitude upon this great ship which has served the country, the Royal Navy and my family with such distinction."

Today, Britannia can be visited at the Port of Leith in Edinburgh where it remains a five-star visitor attraction . Unquestionably, Britannia served the Queen and her family in several ways through its 44 years of service. Season 5 of The Crown uses Britannia as a metaphor for the waning control of the monarchy itself as the Queen struggles to enjoy the same popularity that she once used to in light of the controversial events that haunted the family in the decade. While the initial problems with Britannia marked the beginning of the fall, the ultimate decommissioning brought to closure a decade of turmoil. Irrespective of the place The Crown allocates to it in the scheme of priorities for the royal family, the Royal Yacht Britannia was one home that the Queen loved dearly, if not the most, as a result of the many memories attached to the last royal yacht.

The Story Behind the Royal Family's Yacht, Britannia

The ship hosted four royal honeymoons in its 44 years of service.

Hmy Britannia

Often referred to as the last royal yacht, the Britannia was decommissioned in 1997, and despite some efforts , there are no signs of a new one in the near future. Though its seafaring days may be behind it (the ship now serves as a tourist attraction in Edinburgh, Scotland), the Britannia remains an important artifact and a peek behind the curtain of royal life—it even garnered a prominent place in the fifth season of The Crown . Below, a few of its most notable moments throughout history.

It was the first royal yacht designed for ocean travel.

The ship was built by John Brown & Co at the same shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland in the same location the famous ocean liners the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary were constructed. With 12,000 horsepower, the ship could travel at a maximum 22.5 knots (approximately 25 miles per hour), ideal for ocean-going diplomacy. Prior to its launch in 1953, the royal family used ships from the Royal Navy or even passenger liners for the overseas portions of the royal tour.

In its 44 years of service, the HMY Britannia traveled around 1.1 million miles.

Royal Yacht State Room

It was commissioned just two days before the death of King George VI.

The King was already in failing health by the time the designs for the HMY Britannia were submitted, and the hope was that traveling might help alleviate some of his symptoms. However, just two days after the John Brown shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland received the order the King passed away on February 6, 1952.

It would take just over a year for the ship to be completed, during which time its name remained a secret—it wasn't announced until the ship's official launch in April of 1953, less than two months before the Queen's coronation . Elizabeth cracked a bottle of English wine (in the post-war era, champagne was considered too extravagant for the launch of a ship) and announced, "I name this ship Britannia … I wish success to her and all who sail in her."

It was created to double as a hospital.

When Britannia was first envisioned, less than a decade after the end of World War II, the designers sought to make it as functional as possible, crafting a space that could be converted from an ocean-going royal residence to a seafaring hospital during any possible future wartime. The main veranda was laid out and re-enforced so that it could support a helicopter landing and the laundry was made much larger than on a standard naval vessel to accommodate the potential patients. Though the ship was never actually put to that purpose, it was pressed into service on a rescue mission to help evacuate European nationals from South Yemen in 1986.

The ship was home to a lot of history.

Long before it became a floating museum, the Britannia had an eye for history. The gold and white binnacle housed on the ship's veranda deck was originally part of the HMY Royal George , a royal yacht that served Queen Victoria . Likewise, some of the bed linens used by Queen Elizabeth aboard the vessel were originally made for Victoria's bed for one of the previous royal yachts.

Britannia's steering wheel was lifted from her namesake, the racing yacht HMY Britannia , built in 1893 for King Edward VII .

Royal Yacht Dining Room

It was redesigned to be less opulent.

Despite the sense of luxury that the term "royal yacht" inspires, the Queen and Prince Philip were actually concerned when they began overseeing the project in 1952 that the original interior design plans by the design firm McInnes Gardner & Partners were too lavish for a country still recovering from the war. The interiors were ultimately redesigned by Sir Hugh Casson and received very minimal updates throughout her 44 years of service.

But it still had homey touches—by royal standards.

Suffice to say that even low-key royal living is a fairly high class. In addition to the 56-seat State Dining Room, which hosted luminaries including Winston Churchill, Noel Coward, Nelson Mandela, and multiple US Presidents, the ship also sported a formal staircase where the Queen would greet guests, separate bedrooms and sitting rooms for both Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh, and a phone system designed to match the unique configurations of Buckingham Palace's telephones.

BRITANNIA Queen's bedroom

In the early years of the Britannia's life it was also home to the Queen's Rolls-Royce Phantom V which was hoisted and lowered from a special garage compartment at port so that the Queen could drive her own car at each location. The space was ever so slightly too small, forcing the bumpers to be removed in order to get it into the garage without damage and then refitted when the car was removed. Ultimately Elizabeth began using cars provided for her at port instead and the garage was converted into a storage area for beer.

The steering crew couldn't see where they were going.

Life on board the HMY Britannia was far from typical for her crew. To begin with, due to the prestige and pressure of the position, the commanding officer of the royal yacht was always a flag officer, most commonly a Rear Admiral, although the first two to serve were Vice Admirals, and Britannia 's final CO was a Commodore.

While working, the crew reportedly used hand signals to communicate rather than shouting orders, in order to maintain a sense of quiet and calm for the royal residents. It was also the last ship in the royal navy where the crew members slept in hammocks, a practice that they maintained until 1973.

Hmy Britannia

Perhaps the most unusual element of the ship's functioning, though, was the steering. While on most ships, the steering wheel sits on the bridge, overlooking the front of the vessel, Britannia 's was on the deck below, in the wheelhouse, which meant that the yachtsmen who were actually doing the steering couldn't see where they were going. The crew got around this rather surprising pitfall by using voice pipes from the bridge to confer navigational orders.

It was a royal honeymoon essential.

No fewer than four royal couples celebrated their honeymoons in the HMY Britannia 's honeymoon suite (the only room onboard with a double bed.)

Princess Margaret started the tradition in 1960 for her Caribbean honeymoon with Anthony Armstrong-Jones , a quiet, formal affair where dinners were taken in full evening dress every night. Things didn't go quite as smoothly for Princess Anne on her honeymoon with Captain Mark Phillips in 1973—storms and 20-foot waves left the couple stricken with seasickness for the first week of their Caribbean cruise. Prince Charles and Princess Diana famously spent their 1981 honeymoon on a Mediterranean cruise aboard the yacht. The crew managed to duck the press so efficiently they garnered the nickname "the ghost ship." The final royal honeymoon aboard the Britannia was taken by Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson , Duchess of York in 1986 when the couple traveled around the Azores.

In memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, who was killed in an automobile accident in Paris, France on August 31, 1997.

And a family vacation spot.

In addition to her diplomatic duties on royal tours and her service as a post-wedding retreat, the Britannia was also a vessel for family vacations. During the summer months, the royal family would often take off on what became known as the Western Isles tour, cruising around the western isles of Scotland. During the trip, the family would play games and have barbecues on the islands. The stairway off of the veranda was sometimes even converted into a waterslide for the younger royals. The tour often included a stop off at the Castle of Mey to visit the Queen Mother, then making berth in Aberdeen so that the Queen could travel to her favorite summer home, Balmoral .

Queen Crying At Britannia

The Queen openly wept when HMY Britannia was decommissioned in 1997.

With so many memories around the yacht, it's not hard to understand why the decommissioning of the Britannia was upsetting for the royal family. Though plans were initially drawn up for a replacement yacht, the government ultimately determined not to fund the effort. After the Queen officially took her leave of it in 1997, the ship was placed in the port of Leith in Scotland where it serves as a floating museum and events venue . All of the clocks on board remain stopped at 3:01, the exact time that Her Majesty disembarked for the last time.

Zara Phillips And Mike Tindall Host Pre Wedding Party On Britannia

It was used for a reception for Zara Phillips before her wedding.

Though it's no longer used as their private vessel, the Britannia 's connection to the royal family didn't end in 1997. In 2011 on the night before her wedding, the Queen's oldest granddaughter Zara Phillips contracted the ship for a reception. Though her grandmother wasn't in attendance Zara celebrated her upcoming marriage to Mike Tindall onboard along with her mother and her cousins Prince Harry, Prince William and Kate, Princess Eugenie, and Princess Beatrice.

preview for The Crown: Season 5 - Official Trailer (Netflix)

Lauren Hubbard is a freelance writer and Town & Country contributor who covers beauty, shopping, entertainment, travel, home decor, wine, and cocktails.

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The Royal Yacht Britannia : A History of Queen Elizabeth II’s Favorite Palace

By Lisa Liebman

The Royal Yacht Britannia in Hong Kong during its last voyage in July of 1997.

The christening of The Royal Yacht Britannia serves as a cheeky season opener to  The Crown . Black-and-white Pathé News–style footage shows a soon-to-be-crowned Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy) cheered on by shipbuilders as she launches her new 412-foot yacht. “I hope that this brand-new vessel, like your brand-new queen, will prove to be dependable and constant. Capable of weathering any storm,” she says about the royal replacement for the  Victoria and Albert III . By the series’ season finale, set 44 years later, both the sovereign and the floating palace she christened  Britannia will have hit rough seas—the cost of repairing the creaky old vessel and the modern role of the monarchy both in question. Ultimately, the yacht that undertook 968 official voyages all over the world, hosting dignitaries—including 13 US presidents—at receptions and banquets, was dry-docked near Edinburgh, Scotland, where it continues to be a popular tourist attraction. Here are some of the most buoyant facts about the palace the Queen famously said was “the one place where I can truly relax.”

The sun room on the Royal Yacht Britannia as photographed in 1981.

The sun room on the Royal Yacht Britannia as photographed in 1981. 

In a nod to the country’s post-war austerity, Elizabeth scaled back the design of the ship that her father, King George VI, had commissioned just two days before he died. Rather than following the opulent plan laid out by the Scottish firm McInnes Gardner & Partners, she opted for the understated elegance envisioned by architect Sir Hugh Casson, who described “running a lawn mower over the Louis XVIl adornments” in favor of simple white walls, lilac-gray carpeting, and “a bit of gilding in grand places.” Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Phillip, were said to have personally chosen the furniture—much of it, including linens, recycled from the  Victoria and Albert —fabrics (florals, chintz, toile), and paintings. 

Prince Charles and Princess Diana on board the Royal Yacht Britannia as they prepare to depart on their honeymoon cruise...

Prince Charles and Princess Diana on board the Royal Yacht Britannia as they prepare to depart on their honeymoon cruise in 1981.

As a former Royal Navy Commander, Prince Phillip also saw to the ship’s technical details, and his Bluebottle racing yacht inspired the Britannia ’s navy-hued hull. Outer decks were made of two-inch Burmese teak. The steering wheel was reclaimed from Britannia ’s namesake, King Edward VII’s 1893 racing yacht; a wheelhouse wheel came from George V’s racing yacht; and a gold-and-white binnacle (housing the ship’s compass) was salvaged from King George III’s yacht and installed on the Veranda deck. Fittings from former royal ships were also reused. 

The drawing room on the Royal Yacht Britannia as photographed in 1978.

The drawing room on the Royal Yacht Britannia as photographed in 1978. 

The 4,000-ton yacht had a crew of 220 Royal Yachtsmen who lived on board, about 45 household staff, and occasionally a 26-member Royal Marine embarked to entertain dignitaries. The monarch often welcomed guests from the ship’s grand staircase. (Stairs leading from the Veranda to the Royal deck were sometimes transformed into a water slide for the kids.)  Britannia ’s apartments were designed like those of a first-class ocean liner. A 56-seat state dining room, where many of the gifts given to the monarch (a wood-carved shark from Pitcairn Island, a bejeweled gold statue from Bangkok) were displayed, was the scene of formal dinners with guests such as Sir Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, Nelson Mandela, and Bill and Hillary Clinton. More intimate gatherings were held in the Queen’s official reception room, a smaller state drawing room with floral upholstered pieces, simple wood tables, an electric fireplace, and a Welmar baby grand piano bolted to the deck—played by everyone from Sir Noël Coward to Princesses Diana and Margaret. The teak-clad sun lounge, with rattan furniture and a toile loveseat, was Elizabeth’s favorite place—where she had her breakfast, afternoon tea, and also enjoyed her favorite Dubonnet and gin cocktails.

The Queens sitting room on the Royal Yacht Britannia as photographed in 1981.

The Queen’s sitting room on the Royal Yacht Britannia as photographed in 1981. 

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A ship elevator reserved for royal use moved between the Upper and Shelter Decks. The latter is where four Royal Apartments (bedrooms), including the Queen and Prince Phillip’s connecting compartments, were located. Hers featured florals, his had red accents. Elizabeth’s understated Upper Deck private sitting room, done in pastels and neutrals, served as the office where she conducted state business. Phillip used his sitting room, with its wood desk facing a model of his first command, the HMS Magpie , as his study. Below deck there was a wine cellar, as well as a cargo hold that could carry a barge, speed- and sailboats, plus a royal Range Rover and Rolls-Royce. The yacht could also be converted into a hospital (though it never was).

The Queen shed a tear at the decommissioning ceremony for thye Royal Yacht Britannia.

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As depicted in  The Crown, Britannia ’s final official trip was to Hong Kong in 1997, where Prince Charles attended the handover of the territory to China. By then, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s administration was complaining that the £11 million a year needed to keep the boat afloat couldn’t be justified. With Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip, and all of their children in attendance,  Britannia was decommissioned at a ceremony in Portsmouth, England on December 11, 1997, with the monarch seen wiping away a tear. The yacht, now docked in Leith, Scotland, is open to the public as a museum and events space. (Prior to their wedding, Princess Anne and Mark Phillips’s daughter Zara Phillips and her fiancé Mike Tindall had a celebration there.) Visitors will note that every clock on board reads 3:01, the exact time the Queen disembarked her beloved  Britannia for the final time on that December day.

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What Happened To The Royal Yacht Britannia?

By Elise Taylor

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The Crown season five begins and ends with the same plot point: The Royal Yacht Britannia. The vessel serves as a – fairly obvious – metaphor in the first episode, where Imelda Staunton’s Queen Elizabeth describes it as “a floating, seagoing version of me.” The problem with her metaphorical marine self? It’s in desperate need of multi-million pound repairs. 

She asks British prime minister John Major, played by Jonny Lee Miller, whether the government might be able to help foot the bill. He, in turn, asks if the royal family might front the cost, given the public pushback they both might receive if such a seemingly extravagant project was approved. In the final episode of the season (a note to the reader: spoilers will follow), Tony Blair and Queen Elizabeth agree to decommission the yacht after Prince Charles’s trip to Hong Kong.

The Crown is known for taking much of its plot material from real-life events. In the case of the Royal Yacht Britannia, though – what really happened to the boat, and how much political controversy did it really cause?

To go back to the beginning, King George VI first commissioned the royal yacht that would become the Britannia in 1952. It was an exciting project, as the previous official boat had belonged to Queen Victoria, and was rarely used. Then, during the early 20th century, England was mostly at war, and making a massive, slow-sailing luxury ship would be a massive security risk in international waters. 

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The Royal Yacht Britannia, George decided, should both be an extravagant vessel and a functional one, able to double as a hospital if times of war were to arise again. In 1953, the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth christened the ship with a bottle of wine, as champagne was still seen as too extravagant post-war. In 1954, she set sail for the first time.

The Royal Yacht fulfilled many functions, most of them leisurely. Over the years, the boat hosted four royal honeymoons, including that of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, as well as many family vacations. In 1969, after his investiture as the Prince of Wales, Charles hosted an intimate party on board to celebrate. (Newspapers at the time wrote that he danced with his dear friend Lucia Santa Cruz – the very person who eventually introduced him to Camilla Parker Bowles.)

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It also served as a grandiose mode of transport for many royal visits. In 1959, for example, Britannia sailed to Chicago to celebrate the recently opened St Lawrence seaway in Canada, and President Eisenhower joined her on board. Twenty years later, she sailed to Abu Dhabi for her first official visit to the United Arab Emirates, where she held a grand dinner for Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

And although Queen Elizabeth's reign was not during wartime, the royal yacht did execute a humanitarian mission, as King George VI had always planned for: In 1986, it sailed to Aden to evacuate over 1,000 refugees from the civil war in Yemen.

The New York Times once described the 412-foot Britannia as “an ordinary yacht what Buckingham Palace is to the house next door.” It wasn’t an exaggeration – Britannia was essentially a floating palace. It had a drawing room, a dining room, two sitting rooms, as well as galleys and cabins for all the officers. The stateroom interiors were just as ornate as any other royal estate, while the bedrooms – which all had their own bathrooms and dressing rooms – were designed to feel surprisingly personal. 

“Within the royal apartments, however, the regal elegance gives way to the homey, patched elbow chic of an English country house, with flowered chintz slipcovers, family photographs, and rattan settees, interspersed with the occasional relic of Empire – shark’s teeth from the Solomon Islands here, a golden urn commemorating Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar there,” the New York Times found when it boarded the ship in 1976.

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The cost of running Britannia was always an issue. Politicians raised questions about its financial value as far back as 1954, when two MPs lobbied for an investigation on why the yacht’s refurbishment would cost £5.8 million, accusing the royal family of waste and extravagance. A government committee later dismissed the accusations. In 1994, the Conservative government ruled the yacht too costly to refurbish, when repairs came in at a whopping 17 million, but then briefly walked back on their decision a few years later. 

However, when Tony Blair’s Labour government won the election, and the new government once again declined to pay for Britannia. Britannia’s final journey was to far-flung Hong Kong in 1997, as Prince Charles turned over the British colony back to the Chinese at the end of Britain’s 99-year lease. When they finally decommissioned the boat that summer, the queen cried – one of the few times she’s shown emotion in public. The boat had logged over one million nautical miles.

Today, Britannia sits permanently docked in Edinburgh. Visitors can take tours of its grand galleys, or even rent it out for events. Yet, despite its retirement, the concept of the royal yacht lives on: In 2021, Boris Johnson floated the idea of a new boat. However, a mere eight days ago, Rishi Sunak has scrapped the project – showing that, even now, the concept remains a controversial one.

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What to Know About the Royal Yacht Britannia Featured on 'The Crown' Season 5

The Royal Yacht Britannia served as the official royal yacht of the British monarchy for 44 years

what happened to royal yacht britannia after it was decommissioned

The Crown is diving into royal events from the '90s in season 5 , and that includes the decommissioning of Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia, also known as the Royal Yacht Britannia.

In the first episode of the new season, Claire Foy ( who portrayed Queen Elizabeth II in seasons 1 and 2) reprises her role as the monarch as a flashback shows the yacht's official launch in April 1953.

At the time, the new yacht held special significance as it was launched by the Queen just before her own coronation in June 1953 .

Through the years, the vessel sailed over 1,000,000 nautical miles on 968 state visits with the royal family as they entertained prime ministers and presidents, per the Royal Yacht Britannia website. It also served as the venue for several royal honeymoons , including Princess Diana and Princes Charles in 1981 .

From when it was commissioned to where the Royal Yacht Britannia is now, here's everything to know about the royal yacht.

When was the Royal Yacht Britannia commissioned?

As shown on The Crown , Royal Yacht Britannia was officially launched on April 16, 1953 , at the shipyard of John Brown & Co. Ltd in Clydebank, Dunbartonshire, where Queen Elizabeth unveiled the yacht's official name.

Following Queen Elizabeth 's coronation on June 2, 1953, the Royal Yacht Britannia was commissioned into the Royal Navy on January 11, 1954, before sailing her first overseas port on April 22.

How big is the Royal Yacht Britannia?

The Royal Yacht Britannia is about 412 feet long , with a beam width of 55 feet and five decks , and weighs over 4,000 tons.

Who used the Royal Yacht Britannia?

The yacht was described as the royal family's "floating residence" during its 44 years of service. As it was used to host "magnificent state receptions and banquets, and guests ," numerous world leaders boarded the yacht over the years, including Sir Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Ronald Reagan and Rajiv Gandhi.

Per the Royal Yacht Britannia website, the yacht also " allowed the Royal Family some rare privacy away from their public duties and was famously described by HM Queen Elizabeth II as 'the one place I can truly relax.' "

Furthermore, the Royal Yacht Britannia was the venue of four royal honeymoons : Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones, and Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson. All four royal marriages ended in divorce, which Queen Elizabeth famously reflected on in her 1992 speech where she referred to the past year as her "annus horribilis ," or horrible year.

When was the Royal Yacht Britannia decommissioned?

The yacht's retirement was announced in 1994 as a result of the substantial costs needed to repair the ship. It was estimated that the cost would £17 million, which would only prolong the yacht for another five years.

On December 11, 1997, the Royal Yacht Britannia was decommissioned during an official ceremony that was attended by most of the senior members of the royal family. It was been reported that Queen Elizabeth was seen uncharacteristically shedding a tear during the decommissioning.

"Looking back over 44 years we can all reflect with pride and gratitude upon this great ship which has served the country, the Royal Navy and my family with such distinction," the Queen said at the time .

Where is the Royal Yacht Britannia now?

Listed as part of the National Historic Fleet, people can now visit the Royal Yacht Britannia at Port of Leith in Edinburgh, Scotland. Visitors are able to see various parts of the yacht including Britannia's five decks, the state apartments, as well as the Sun Lounge, which was the Queen's favorite room in which to have her afternoon tea.

Does the Royal Yacht Britannia have a successor?

Plans for a successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia first began in 2019 when it was reported that the late Sir Donald Gosling had donated £50 million to pay for the construction . In 2021, the yacht was commissioned by Boris Johnson to host trade fairs and diplomatic events and it was expected to go into service in 2024 or 2025.

However, in November 2022, it was reported by BBC that plans for the yacht were being scrapped as the government "searches for spending cuts." The new yacht was estimated to cost up to £250 million.

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King Charles III (then Prince of Wales) with Princess Diana on the Royal Yacht Britannia at the start of their honeymoon cruise

King Charles III yesterday made a poignant return to the Royal Yacht Britannia. A ‘home from home’ for Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh and their four children, the Royal Yacht Britannia held an important place in the lives of the Royal Family for more than four decades until it was decommissioned in 1997.

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Family holidays, honeymoon and precious private time – the Royal Yacht Britannia brought so much to the Windsors. ‘This was the place out of the public eye, they could relax and be themselves. On board Britannia that was their family time and it was our job to make their stay comfortable,’ one former crew member recalled yesterday.

Members of the Royal Yacht Britannia make a toast with King Charles III during a tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia

Members of the Royal Yacht Britannia make a toast with King Charles III during a tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia

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Boarding the decommissioned yacht, King Charles no doubt would have been transported back through the decades to the countless voyages he shared with his siblings, cousins and parents – and later his wife and their young sons. During the visit – part of a busy schedule of engagements for Holyrood Week – King Charles sipped rum with sailors, met former crew members and attended a reception in the State Dining Room. ‘To all the marvellous Yotties who keep it all going, you are all brilliant,’ he said, toasting the crew.

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The history of royal yachts dates back to the reign of Charles II who, when he became King of England, Scotland and Ireland on the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, was gifted a yacht called the Mary by his Dutch allies. There have been a total of 82 royal yachts since. As well as providing monarchs and their families a place in which to relax, they have also been deployed on diplomatic missions; a role that was particularly important before royals were able to jet off on planes.

Prince Charles and Princess Anne with their nanny on board the Royal yacht Britannia at Portsmouth

Prince Charles and Princess Anne with their nanny on board the Royal yacht, Britannia at Portsmouth

Although it was Queen Elizabeth II and her family who enjoyed the use of the Britannia, the vessel had been commissioned by her father, King George VI , as a replacement for the ageing Victoria and Albert which was decommissioned in 1939 having been constructed during the reign of Queen Victoria.

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George VI, who reigned over Britain during the Second World War, took a practical approach when planning the new vessel, lest the nation should once again find itself in the throes of conflict, and ensured it could easily be turned into a hospital ship if needed. Sadly, the King died before construction was completed and it was his daughter and son-in-law who had the final say on its design.

The Queen and Prince Philip waving on board Royal Yacht Britannia during an official visit to Kuwait

The Queen and Prince Philip waving on board Royal Yacht Britannia during an official visit to Kuwait

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The state room on the Royal Yacht Britannia

The Britannia set sail on her maiden voyage from Portsmouth to the Grand Harbour in Malta on 14 April 1952, carrying Princess Anne and her brother Prince Charles , who reunited with the then Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the end of their Commonwealth tour. The late Queen first boarded the yacht at Tobruk in the country then known as the Kingdom of Libya in May 1954, and she famously became the first British monarch to visit Chicago in 1959 when the yacht docked in the city.

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It became integral to royal life. As a young boy, Prince Charles is said to have stolen pastries from the kitchen of the yacht, and was captured on film playing on the decks and swooping down a makeshift slide. Sir Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela were among those who dined in the opulent State Dining Room, while Prince Charles and Princess Diana honeymooned on board. It was also the location of fun-filled family holidays, with private home videos and photos shared from the royal archives over the years revealing how the late Queen relaxed on deck as the family whizzed down waterslides.

Season 5 of The Crown featured the Britannia towards the end of her seaworthy days. The series depicts Queen Elizabeth II (played by Imelda Staunton) tries to strong-arm Prime Minister Sir John Major (Johnny Lee Miller) into footing the bill for a sizeable refurbishment, telling him: ‘From the design of the hull to the smallest piece of china, she is a floating, seagoing expression of me.’ The Duke of Edinburgh (Jonathan Pryce) also does his best to compel Sir John to take action.

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The Royal Yacht Britannia in Hong Kong

Ultimately, however, it was decided (as in real life) that the ‘costs were too great’ and, in 1994, it was announced the Britannia would be decommissioned. Three years later, the vessel that had given the late Queen so many happy memories embarked on its final voyage – a farewell tour around the UK. On the day of decommissioning, the enormity of the occasion was clear for the world to see, for Her late Majesty was photographed wiping away a tear during the ceremony; a rare public display of emotion for the stoic sovereign.

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Since her retirement, Britannia has been moored in the Port of Leith in Edinburgh and has served as a tourist attraction. It marks the final chapter in a fascinating story of the beloved floating royal residence.

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The Queen wiping a tear from her eye at the de-commissioning ceremony for The Royal Yacht Britannia

what happened to royal yacht britannia after it was decommissioned

New national flagship replacing the Royal Yacht Britannia 'to be funded through the Ministry of Defence', says Number 10

The new flagship will replace the Royal Yacht Britannia which was retired in 1997 after 44 years of service.

what happened to royal yacht britannia after it was decommissioned

Political reporter @itssophiemorris

Monday 21 June 2021 17:04, UK

Handout image issued by 10 Downing Street showing an artist's impression of a new national flagship, the successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said will promote British trade and industry around the world. Issue date: Sunday May 30, 2021.

A new national yacht, which is reportedly set to cost £200m, will be paid for out of the Ministry of Defence's budget, Downing Street has confirmed.

The national flagship, the successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia, will sail the globe hosting trade talks.

The prime minister's official spokesperson said Boris Johnson hopes it will be built in the UK, but that international rules on procurement will be followed.

Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia was decommissioned in 1997

Mr Johnson announced the commissioning of the new flagship earlier this year , saying it would be used to promote British interests around the world as the UK seeks to build trade links post-Brexit.

The vessel will be part of and crewed by the Royal Navy, the PM said.

"Every aspect of the ship, from its build to the businesses it showcases on board, will represent and promote the best of British - a clear and powerful symbol of our commitment to be an active player on the world stage," he added.

Labour has previously called on the government to set out how the yacht will boost trade and jobs in the UK and to "focus on value for money" with regards to the project.

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Conservative Jake Berry, who is chairman of the Northern Research Group of MPs, has campaigned for the vessel to be built by Cammell Laird on Merseyside.

And at a lobby briefing on Monday, the PM's official spokesperson confirmed the new flagship will be "funded through the Ministry of Defence".

There are calls for the yacht to be built at the Cammell Laird shipyard

"This new national flagship will boost British trade and drive investment into the economy," he said.

"The procurement process, which is being done through the MoD, will reflect its wide-ranging use and so it will be funded through the MoD, as set out previously."

The PM's official spokesperson declined to comment on where the MoD would find the reported £200m required for the project out of its budget, but did confirm the new vessel will not be a warship.

"We will set out the exact detail in due course but this is a trade ship, it is not a military vessel," he said.

The Royal Yacht Britannia was launched by The Queen in 1953 and was retired in 1997 after completing 44 years of service.

The new national flagship is expected to be in service for around 30 years.

The yacht's name is yet to be announced, but reports have suggested it will pay homage to the Duke of Edinburgh who was Lord High Admiral from 2011 until his death earlier this year, and served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War.

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Reflecting on Edinburgh's Royal Yacht Britannia 25 years after arriving in Leith

As the nation gears up for the historic coronation of King Charles III, we wind the clock back a quarter of a century when the monarchy's own Royal Yacht Britannia made her way home to her final resting place in sunny Leith.

  • 12:54, 5 MAY 2023

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When the Royal Yacht Britannia was decommissioned in 1997 following forty-four years of serving the country, the late Queen Elizabeth II thanked the ship and its crew for providing "great support" to the nation.

Having sailed one million miles, carrying over 700 hundreds royal visits at home and overseas, the Queen hailed the ship's achievements as "a great testament to those who designed and built her."

The year after the ship was decommissioned, it made its way to Leith where it has been an ever-present for 25 years as we approach the momentous anniversary of the Royal Yacht Britannia docking in Edinburgh.

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Thousands lined the dock as the impressive vessel made it way into the harbour in 1998. Many now know it as one of the capital's most popular tourist attractions, welcoming around 350,000 visitors every year.

Images taken on May 5, 1998 show hundreds of excited locals in awe as the vessel sails into Leith Docks, played in by a pipe band.

As well as the ship herself, a special museum is also present within Edinburgh's Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre where visitors can read about every landmark achievement the ship made and just how much the late monarch loved it.

Royal family boarding ship

The Royal Yacht was in service from 1954 until 1997 and was the 83rd such vessel since King Charles II acceded to the throne in 1660. During her extensive career, the yacht visited more than 600 ports in 135 different countries.

HMY Britannia, as she is also known by, was built at the shipyard of John Brown & Co. Ltd in Clydebank. The Queen officially launched the vessel on April 16, 1553 and commissioned her on January 11, 1954.

The ship was designed to be converted into a hospital ship in time of war, although this capability was never used. In the event of a nuclear war, it was intended for the Queen and her husband Prince Philip to take refuge onboard off the north-west coast of Scotland.

Britannia being towed from Portsmouth May 1998 to her new Scottish berth the Firth of Forth at Leith near Edinburgh.

At 20:00 on 17 January 1986, the Yacht dropped anchor at Khormaksar Beach. Civil war had broken out in South Yemen and ships were urgently required to evacuate British nationals and others trapped by fighting. As a non-combatant Royal Navy ship, Britannia would be able to enter territorial waters without further inflaming the conflict.

In 1994, the government announced the yacht's retirement. It last underwent a major refit in 1987 with a further refit at an estimated cost of £17million necessary in 1996-97 but would only have prolonged her life for a further five years.

In view of her age, even after the refit she would be difficult to maintain and expensive to run.

In a special sending-off ceremony letter, written by the Queen as one last goodbye to Britannia, she said: "Together with members of my family, Prince Phillip and I join you today to pay tribute to Britannia and give our thanks to all who have been part of her company.

"Looking back over forty-four years we can all reflect with pride and gratitude upon this great ship which has served the country, the Royal Navy and my family with such distinction."

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She continued: "It is with sadness that we must now say goodbye to Britannia. It is appropriate that with this final event show bows out in the style which is so typical of the manner in which her business has always been conducted."

Now, the Royal Yacht Britannia has been awarded a five-star visitor attraction status by Best UK Attraction with guests able to discover five decks of stories from the Royal Family and the 220 Royal Yachtsmen who served onboard.

The vessel has also been converted into a luxury floating hotel where guests can stay the night, as well as visit the Royal Deck Tea Room.

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A multi-million pound Royal Yacht replacement has been confirmed and people aren’t happy

<p>Her Majesty's Ship the royal yacht Britannia in Hong Kong before it was decommissioned in 1997</p>

Her Majesty's Ship the royal yacht Britannia in Hong Kong before it was decommissioned in 1997

After reports circulated of a new ship to replace the now decommissioned Royal Yacht Britannia earlier this year - including to name it after the late Duke of Edinburgh - the new “national flagship ” has actually been given the go-ahead by the prime minister .

The vessel, which was previously estimated to cost up to £200 million, will look to “boost British trade and drive investment” into the UK economy by hosting trade shows negotiations.

“This new national flagship will be the first vessel of its kind in the world, reflecting the UK’s burgeoning status as a great, independent maritime trading nation.

“Every aspect of the ship, from its build to the businesses it showcases on board, will represent and promote the best of British,” the prime minister said in a statement .

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In April, several Tory MPs proposed a new royal yacht in memory of Prince Philip, after the royal passed away aged 99.

However, a senior royal source told The Sunday Times that it was considered “too grand” a symbol for the monarchy, adding that “it is not something we have asked for”.

Now that the plans have officially been confirmed, it appears as though many members of the public share that sentiment, suggesting other areas where the money could be spent:

Oh look everyone is talking about a Royal yacht and a secret wedding in the Sunday papers and not wallpaper, Matt H… https://t.co/JBRkaFYqsm — John Russell (@John Russell) 1622355425
I don’t see how it’s a royal yacht if the Palace doesn’t approve it. It seems a remarkably old-fashioned, environme… https://t.co/Ru6wryXWHe — Chris Bryant (@Chris Bryant) 1622359888
The new Royal Yacht matters. It demonstrates clearly once again that Johnson does not have a single original idea i… https://t.co/fP4Wb5ZocH — Otto English (@Otto English) 1622362523
Yesterday I walked past a long queue of people waiting for a food bank but today I am told there is £200 million fo… https://t.co/mzgzJJQJyM — Martin O'Neill (@Martin O'Neill) 1622362718
UK government slashes the overseas aid budget, which actually does boost trade and the country's "soft power", to s… https://t.co/ybCmUlGeCz — Daniel Sohege 🧡 (@Daniel Sohege 🧡) 1622357655

The ship, which will be manned by the Royal Navy, is expected to be in service for around 30 years once it sets sail, which Downing Street says will be “within the next four years”.

Construction of the ship, meanwhile, could begin “as soon as next year”.

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Charles III returns to the Royal Yacht Britannia, on which he took his honeymoon with Lady Di

The ship, which a very young elizabeth ii inaugurated in 1953 just after ascending the throne, served the british monarchy for 44 years. it served four newlywed royal couples, although all the marriages later ended in divorce.

Carlos de Inglaterra

Some places just bring back memories and stories from the past. For the British royal family, the Royal Yacht Britannia is more than a luxury ship: it was inaugurated in 1953 by a very young Elizabeth II , who had just ascended the throne after her father, King George V, died. Four royal couples have enjoyed their honeymoons aboard the yacht, although they all divorced later. Many considered it a floating palace, because it boasted all the amenities the British royals desired but on the high seas. In 1997, it stopped sailing permanently and became a museum located in Leith, a district of Edinburgh, Scotland. Taking advantage of his trip to the Scottish capital for this Wednesday’s coronation ceremony, King Charles III visited the yacht 42 years after his wedding to Princess Diana of Wales , the ship on which they took a six-nation honeymoon.

The monarch is in Scotland to receive the Honors, as tradition dictates; it’s a ceremony in which he will be shown the United Kingdom’s oldest Crown Jewels on the occasion of his coronation. Queen consort Camilla accompanied Charles III on this trip, although she did not join him on the tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia. Once a year, the royal family travels to Holyrood Palace to celebrate a series of traditional Scottish events, but this time it culminates with a special event in honor of the new monarch. King Charles III’s schedule was packed with events in Edinburgh this Monday: he received the keys to the city and ended up boarding the Britannia, decades after the last time he was aboard.

Originally, the ship was intended to improve King George VI’s health, but he never enjoyed it. The yacht was inaugurated in April 1953, when Elizabeth II — who was about to be crowned — said a few words to toast the event: “I will call this ship Britannia. I wish success to her and to all who sail on her.” For 44 years, the Britannia was one of the Windsors’ most important ships, serving the queen and her family members on their travels around the world. The queen went as far as to confess that Britannia was “the only place to relax.”

King Charles III visits the Royal Yacht Britannia on July 3, 2023, in Edinburgh, Scotland.

On December 11, 1997, the ship was decommissioned after traveling to 135 countries and sailing over one million nautical miles. Subsequently docked and turned into a museum, Charles III wanted to return to the place where he once showed his happiness with his new wife Princess Diana of Wales (at least to outward appearances). On board the ship, the monarch had the opportunity to talk with former sailors from the crew and to revive naval traditions. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the ship’s retirement, the king toasted with rum and shared a few words commending the attendees for the way they have taken care of the ship during that time.

Although it was built as a royal residence — it had five floors and a staff of over 240 sailors—at one point there was also the possibility that it would be used as a maritime hospital. It never fulfilled the latter purpose, but it was deployed in a rescue mission to evacuate European citizens from South Yemen in 1986. In addition to the British royal family, luminaries including Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher also sailed aboard the Britannia.

King Charles III visits the Royal Yacht Britannia on July 3, 2023, in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The 240 sailors who worked aboard the yacht had to meet certain requirements, such as communicating via signs and hand gestures to avoid shouting and provide a sense of peace and tranquility, which was what the royal family was seeking. They also had to change clothes six times a day to comply with various protocols.

Beyond becoming a simple boat on which members of the royal family spent their vacations or enjoyed a few days of peace, it was also how the family’s newlyweds traveled the world. Princess Margaret was the first to do so in 1960, when she went on her honeymoon in the Caribbean with Anthony Armstrong-Jones, whom she divorced 18 years later. Princess Anne and her husband Mark Phillips were next in 1973; they divorced 19 years later. Prince Charles and Princess Diana followed, taking a traditional honeymoon in 1981. On board the ship, they visited the Rock of Gibraltar, Algeria, Tunisia, Sicily, Greece and Egypt. Fifteen years later, the marriage ended in divorce. Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson were the last to take the yacht on their honeymoon to the Azores in 1986; they were married for 10 years. For the royal family’s newlyweds, the ship seems to have brought only divorce.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana of Wales on their honeymoon aboard the Britannia on August 1, 1981

Decades of voyages and stories ended in 1997. The royal family wanted to build another ship to replace the Britannia, but the government refused to finance it. The clocks on the royal yacht remain stopped at 15:01 (3:01 p.m.), the time when the Queen disembarked from the ship for the last time, closing its doors as a palace and reopening them as a museum.

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IMAGES

  1. The Crown True Story: The Royal Yacht Britannia

    what happened to royal yacht britannia after it was decommissioned

  2. The story behind the Royal Yacht Britannia

    what happened to royal yacht britannia after it was decommissioned

  3. Where is Royal Yacht Britannia berthed now, when was the Queen's vessel

    what happened to royal yacht britannia after it was decommissioned

  4. Queen’s request for new Royal Yacht Britannia removed from public

    what happened to royal yacht britannia after it was decommissioned

  5. 1997: Queen In Tears As Royal Yacht Decommissioned

    what happened to royal yacht britannia after it was decommissioned

  6. Where is the Royal Yacht Britannia and why was it decommissioned

    what happened to royal yacht britannia after it was decommissioned

VIDEO

  1. The Royal Yacht BRITANNIA

  2. P&O Cruises Britannia departing Southampton 1st September 2023 after dropping off lifeboat

  3. Exploring Scotland's Majestic Royal Yacht Britannia

  4. Royal Yacht Britannia Sept 2011

  5. Tanker hit by Britannia Cruise Ship after breaking ropes in Palma Mallorca

  6. Inside the Royal Yacht Britannia 🛥️ #shortsvideo #short #shorts

COMMENTS

  1. What Happened To The Royal Yacht Britannia After It Was Decommissioned?

    The Royal Yacht Britannia Is Now A Museum. After it was decommissioned in 1997, the ship became part of the National Historic Fleet and was moored in the historic Port of Leith in Edinburgh, Scotland. The ship is now maintained by the Royal Yacht Britannia Trust, a registered non-profit, and it serves as a museum.

  2. Where is the Royal Yacht Britannia and why was it decommissioned?

    The Royal Yacht was decommissioned in 1994 by John Major's Government because "the costs were too great", according to the official website. The decision was made after the Royal Yacht was ...

  3. What Happened to the Royal Yacht Britannia?

    November 15, 2022. The Queen boards the Royal Yacht Britannia. Tim Graham/Getty Images. The Crown season five begins and ends with the same plot point: The Royal Yacht Britannia. The vessel serves ...

  4. When was the Royal Yacht Britannia decommissioned? Where it is moored

    Despite the monarch's love of the yacht, Britannia was decommissioned in 1997 after Tony Blair was voted into power. However, Boris Johnson imagined a new Royal Yacht to replace Britannia. The ...

  5. What Happened To Britannia? The Fate of Queen's Beloved Yacht

    On January 17, 1986, the ship evacuated over 1,000 refugees from the civil war in Aden, Yemen, with the yacht's drawing rooms used as a temporary dormitory. On average, Britannia has over 300,000 ...

  6. HMY Britannia

    Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia is the former royal yacht of the British monarchy.She was in their service from 1954 until 1997. She was the 83rd such vessel since King Charles II acceded to the throne in 1660, and is the second royal yacht to bear the name, the first being the racing cutter built for the Prince of Wales in 1893. During her 43-year career, the yacht travelled more than a million ...

  7. Decommission

    On 23 June 1994, John Major's Government announced there would be no refit for HMY Britannia as the costs would be too great. After a long and successful career spanning 44 years and travelling over 1 million miles around the globe, it was announced that the last Royal Yacht was to be decommissioned. There was no immediate decision about a ...

  8. What happened to the Royal Yacht Britannia mentioned in The Crown

    November 11, 2022 at 4:15 a.m. EST. The Royal Yacht Britannia enters Hong Kong harbor on its last overseas voyage in 1997. (Dan Groshong/AFP/Getty Images) LONDON — The much-hyped fifth season of ...

  9. Inside the Royal Yacht 'Britannia'

    In fact, Britannia was the 83rd royal yacht; the first, HMY Mary, was constructed in 1660 by the Dutch East India Company and given as a gift to Charles II. Britannia 's predecessor, Victoria & Albert III, was completed in 1901 and used by Edward II up through George VI, but was decommissioned in 1939 and eventually broken up as scrap.

  10. The Crown: The Real History of the Royal Yacht Britannia

    Britannia was launched by the Queen on April 16, 1953, and commissioned on January 11, 1954. Royal Yacht Britannia served Prince Charles and Princess Anne on her maiden voyage, taking them to the ...

  11. The Story Behind the Royal Family's Yacht, Britannia

    The royal family has a long history of seafaring—the first official royal yacht was the HMY Mary (HMY stands for His or Her Majesty's Yacht), gifted to Charles II by the Dutch in 1660. In fact ...

  12. The Royal Yacht Britannia

    The christening of The Royal Yacht Britannia serves as a cheeky season opener to The Crown. Black-and-white Pathé News-style footage shows a soon-to-be-crowned Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy ...

  13. What Happened To The Royal Yacht Britannia?

    The Royal Yacht Britannia, George decided, should both be an extravagant vessel and a functional one, able to double as a hospital if times of war were to arise again. In 1953, the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth christened the ship with a bottle of wine, as champagne was still seen as too extravagant post-war. In 1954, she set sail for the first ...

  14. All About the Royal Yacht Britannia Featured on The Crown Season 5

    The Royal Yacht Britannia served as the official royal yacht of the British monarchy for 44 years. The Crown is diving into royal events from the '90s in season 5, and that includes the ...

  15. Exclusive: Britannia to rule the waves once more, with new royal yacht

    The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh leave Britannia for the last time after it was decommissioned in 1997. A replacement for the royal yacht is to be announced by Boris Johnson

  16. Royal Yacht Britannia replacement to enter service in four years, says

    The new national flagship to replace the Royal Yacht Britannia and give British businesses a new global platform will enter service in four years, Boris Johnson has announced. The Prime Minister ...

  17. King Charles III makes a poignant return to the Royal Yacht Britannia

    King Charles III yesterday made a poignant return to the Royal Yacht Britannia. A 'home from home' for Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh and their four children, the Royal Yacht Britannia held an important place in the lives of the Royal Family for more than four decades until it was decommissioned in 1997.

  18. New national flagship replacing the Royal Yacht Britannia ...

    The Royal Yacht Britannia was launched by The Queen in 1953 and was retired in 1997 after completing 44 years of service. The new national flagship is expected to be in service for around 30 years.

  19. Reflecting on Edinburgh's Royal Yacht Britannia 25 years after arriving

    Kris Gourlay Reporter. Hundreds flocked to the shore to see the Royal Yacht arriving in Edinburgh in May 1998. (Image: Daily Record) When the Royal Yacht Britannia was decommissioned in 1997 following forty-four years of serving the country, the late Queen Elizabeth II thanked the ship and its crew for providing "great support" to the nation.

  20. A multi-million pound Royal Yacht replacement has been ...

    After reports circulated of a new ship to replace the now decommissioned Royal Yacht Britannia earlier this year - including to name it after the late Duke of Edinburgh - the new "national flagship" has actually been given the go-ahead by the prime minister.. The vessel, which was previously estimated to cost up to £200 million, will look to "boost British trade and drive investment ...

  21. UK trade: Ministry of Defence to pay for 'national yacht'

    The Royal Yacht Britannia became a tourist attraction in Edinburgh after it was decommissioned Labour has said the government must demonstrate clearly how the ship is expected to boost trade.

  22. Charles III returns to the Royal Yacht Britannia, on which he took his

    The queen went as far as to confess that Britannia was "the only place to relax." King Charles III visits the Royal Yacht Britannia on July 3, 2023, in Edinburgh, Scotland. POOL (via REUTERS) On December 11, 1997, the ship was decommissioned after traveling to 135 countries and sailing over one million nautical miles.