Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Welcome aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia

It was in my itinery to visit the Royal Yacht and I thought stuff the expense, it's the nearest I'm going to get to the royal family. Britannia is berthed at Western Harbour, Ocean Terminal, Leith Docks, Edinburgh. Next to it is Ocean Drive shopping centre which gives free parking. Entrance is through the shopping centre. First you walk through the displays. Uniforms of the Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines. A carved and guilded binnacle. Ornamental bell ropes. The wheelhouse. Information boards of where in the world she has sailed to, and photographs of the royal family on board.

This is Britains last Royal Yacht, home to the royal family from 1953 to 1997. She was built in 1952 and on the 1st of May she was handed over to the Royal Yacht Britannia Trust charity.

When you go aboard you are handed a gadget like a big phone with a keypad. This is your audio guide for the whole tour. I must say it worked wonderfully well. Each area had it's own number and you were prompted to listen as you walked through. The information given was short and interesting. No listening to lengthy lists of facts and figures, it painted a picture of how life on board used to be. You could go through at your own pace rather than following a human guide, and with a hearing difficulty like I have, this is a much better system.

This is the bit where they steer the boat, there is only one chair for the boss, as all others have to be on alert and ready for work immediately. There's no sitting down on the job.

I love all this old fashioned equipment, it's so stylish.

The bit behind has all the navigational equipment, maps, computers etc.

Look at this switchboard, isn't it fabulous.

Outside on deck is this cabinet housing all the flags of the world.

There are several different decks to visit and you gain access to these up and down the steps of the external walkways. You don't go up and down on the boats own stairs like they would while at sea.

This is the officers dining room, all quite civilised.

And the officers lounge.

This is the bedroom of an officer, a bit like a little caravan, all self contained with a bathroom and small kitchenette.

Here is a binnacle outside the royal sun lounge on the sun deck.

The Queens bedroom is very neat and simple, no elaborate furnishings here. Prince Philip's bedroom is adjoining it.

Here we have the state ballroom. It can be carpeted for banquets or they can be removed to create a dance floor. Heads of state from all over the world have been entertained here. Some of the gifts they have brought are displayed on the walls. I can just imagine her majesty gracing the top table wearing her diamond tiara with all her refinery.

This fabulous room is the reception room where all the family can come together and meet their distinguished guests. The little tables scattered around are for card games, and for the children to play with their puzzles and games.

Seamen lower down in rank have to share their accommodation. The lower the rank the more basic the accommodation became. They did get rid of the hammocks however in favour of fold down beds which doubled as seating benches in the day time. This little cabin is quite compact.

This yacht was used to ferry the royal family to their engagements on shore.

The engine room is fascinating. Apparently it was as clean then as it is now. Standards were very high on the royal yacht.

On board is also a Rolls Royce Phantom housed in it's own garage. I didn't take a picture because of the reflections in the glass, but it has to have it's bumpers taken off to fit it in.
There is a laundry to look round, and some of the kitchens are open for viewing. Some kitchens are out of bounds however as they are in constant use for the many corporate events that Britannia hosts. There is also a fudge making kitchen, providing home made fudge for the shop.

Some additional facts....On 16th of April 1953 this ship was first launched. It had a staff of over three hundred. It has visited 600 ports in 135 countries. It has travelled over one million miles. There have been four honeymoons on board. These were 1960 Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong Jones, 1973 Princess Anne and Captain Mark Philips, 1981 Prince Charles and Diana, 1986 the Duke and Duchess of York. There is only one room with a double bed, in the whole ship.

I thoroughly enjoyed looking round, they have made it an experience never to forget. It is wheel chair friendly so no one need be left out. For more info look at

One last look, picture taken from the car park.

Having a bimble around I thought this looks a lovely colourful boat. Don't know what it is, but doesn't it look magnificent.

Right, what's next on the list, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, but I am not going to pay to go in, I am going to climb Holyrood Hill to look down on it and admire the views. Here it is.

And up a bit further. The funny looking building is an exhibition centre, Our Dynamic Earth.
Just look at those views, often thought of the best views in Scotland.
There are a lot of people about today, all eager to reach the top.

No, that couple is not sitting next to a tent ha ha, there is a mini lake down there.

Now I am down at the bottom, looking up at where I have walked.

And here is a couple of pics of the Scottish Parliament building, opposite Holyrood House, at the end of the Royal Mile.

A very modern arty building. Where the crooked wooden stakes are fastened to the outside of the glass on the ground floor, they are fixed seperately to the doors so they can be opened. Very clever.

I hope you have enjoyed this trip to Edinburgh, more Scottish pics to come.


  1. I have just seen your post about comments - lots of people seem to be having problems but I am still able to comment as normal (at least for now).

    I don't know what is going on with blogger but for the last few weeks I can't view photos on it - I have to refresh pages about 15 times before photos will even attempt load and then it takes a long time to get them all up on my screen! More often, I just give up and come back later but it is being very hit and miss. It is so annoying! I can read all of your words but can't see any of the photos they relate to - I am giving up and will have to try later - and probably if the photos are working then I won't be able to comment!

    I do wish the blogger people would sort out whatever the problems are!

  2. That's a bit worrying Louise. I have just done this post on the Netbook, connected to the home broadband, because that's where I loaded the photo's. I hope everyone else can see them and it's not a problem at my end. Ilona

  3. The Royal yacht looks stunning inside. Very tasteful. I'm surprised the Queen had a single bed, though.

  4. According to a report about Prince Philip, I read recently, he is very miffed that the yacht was taken out of service and declared it had years of life left in it yet. Sally

  5. What a fantastic op to go on the Royal Yacht. I think they were encouraged to give it up as it was funded by the tax-payer and a bit of a luxury. I remember the Queen tearing up when she said goodbye to it.
    I m certainly going to visit it.
    Do remember in Porridge - the only two men in England who had never had a job was Fletch and the Duke of E. lol.

  6. A record breaking ship - that Norwegian red and white one.


  7. That second pic from the top is lovely,I really like the angle. I think if I worked aboard it, I would quite like the shared room with the little bunk beds.

  8. What a fab collection of photos (now I can see them!) - the boats looks very interesting and the views are lovely!

  9. Very nostalgic to see these photos. I grew up near Portsmouth Harbour and the Royal Yacht was often there. We took it for granted, A very elegant little ship.

    Not a good place for a honeymoon though- each of those four marriages ended in divorce!

  10. Terrific photos of Edinburgh. Loved the ones of the Royal Yacht Britannia. I really like the detailed accounts that you give, and all the pictures that you take. Myself and my boys are going to be visiting the RYB at some point and your account of it has made us even more keen to visit. You take brilliant photos. Christy. x