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.
“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.