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Spectrum » Travel

Posted at: Sep 10, 2017, 1:24 AM; last updated: Sep 10, 2017, 1:24 AM (IST)

Queen’s floating palace

The Royal Yacht Britannia, which retired after serving the British Royal family for 44 years, is a magnet for tourists visiting Edinburgh

Sujoy Dhar

If you have the iconic Buckingham Palace in London or the magnificent Windsor Castle nearby on your bucket list of must-see residences of Her Majesty, then add one more to it. Well, if you are visiting the beautiful capital city of Edinburgh in Scotland to soak in its year-long festivals and amazing hospitality of the Scots, a visit to the spectacular Royal Yacht Britannia should not be missed.

This royal yacht or the floating holiday home of the Queen had sailed more than one million miles from 1954 to 1997, carrying the Queen, the King and other royal family members to distant shores, completing some 696 foreign visits.

Britannia, which retired from service in 1997, is now a magnet for tourists visiting Edinburgh since it is permanently berthed at Ocean Terminal, Leith.

Britannia was launched from the John Brown & Company shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland on April 16, 953. For more than 44 years, she served the royal family, sailing to different countries as the most iconic ship in the world.

To the Queen, Britannia proved to be the perfect royal residence for glittering state visits, official receptions, royal honeymoons and relaxing family holidays.

For Great Britain, she was a majestic symbol of the Commonwealth and a proud ambassador.

About the yacht, the Queen had said it is "one place where I can truly relax."

This is the yacht in which Prince Charles and Princess Diana had sailed on their honeymoon to the Mediterranean in 1981. So as you step inside the yacht and walk through its corridors and decks, you discover the room in which the royal couple had stayed together. You discover what life was like on board Her Majesty’s floating royal residence viewing the rooms of the Queen Elizabeth, the King (Duke of Edinburgh) besides royal dining and drawing rooms, the bars of the crew members and the shimmering tea sets or candle stands.

On board, you follow the footsteps of leaders like Sir Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Rajiv Gandhi, all of whom had been hosted on the yacht by the Queen. As you explore Britannia's five decks with highlights, including the elegant Royal Apartments, Crew's Quarters, Engine Room and stunning Royal Deck Tea Room, you can get a good commentary with the free audio guide.

The visit also helps to discover the private, refined taste of the Queen. There is simplicity and minimalism. It is said the Queen and the King had rejected the lavishness of its interiors by the original designers and chose the simple country house décor that goes with the postwar period.

Here you can also have refreshment in a stunning Royal Deck Tea Room.

And yes, you can wrap up the royal visit with a few purchases in the gift shop in the terminal at the entry point.

More about the Yacht  

  • Fabulous state apartments and royal bedrooms
  • Relaxing sun lounge
  • Stunning royal deck tea room
  • Life below decks in the sick bay and the laundry
  • Sample home-made fudge in the NAAFI sweet shop
  • The onboard Rolls-Royce Phantom V that used to travel on Britannia
  • Gleaming engine room
  • Royal racing yacht bloodhound
Visiting Time

  • Britannia is open every day, except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. 
  • A tour of the ship can be completed in two hours. For the months of January, February, March, November and December, the admission time is between 10 am and 3.30 pm.
  • For April, May, June, July, August and September, it is between 9.30 am and 4.30pm.
  • In October, it is between 9.30 am and 4.00 pm. The ticket for an adult costs £15.50.

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