Rule Britannia! Here, a photo tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia, formerly the floating official residence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Sailing the seas for more than 40 years, the yacht was decommissioned on Dec. 11, 1997. At the moment of decommissioning, exactly one minute past three, all the clocks on board were stopped. After sailing more than one million miles around the globe, her last official voyage brought Charles, HRH The Prince of Wales, home from Hong Kong, after the formal handover of the city state back to the People’s Republic of China.
But to Her Majesty, this was more than an official residence. It was her holiday escape and her home. She and the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, had their honeymoon here, as did Diana after her wedding to Prince Charles. Many photos on display reveal a happy family on vacation, enjoying a respite at sea – and a woman of conservative if not frugal taste, and a taste for gin and Dubonnet, as well! Now, the ship makes its permanent home in Scotland, just outside Edinburgh, at Leith, and is considered one of the most popular public attractions in Scotland.
Here, we take a look inside the Royal Yacht Britannia.
When you enter the Britannia, you’re greeted by the Grand Staircase to your left.
On your right, is the Drawing Room, where Her Majesty would often take tea. Just off to the left is the baby grand piano. Both Princess Margaret and Princess Diana were known to tickle the ivories while on board.
All the clocks on board are stopped at one minute past three, the exact time that Her Majesty decommissioned Britannia.
In the formal dining room, no detail is too small. Official and state dinners were held here, and the room is resplendent with many of Prince Philip’s finds and diplomatic gifts that he brought back from his travels.
Speaking of Prince Philip, his racing sailboat, the Bloodhound, was often moored alongside Britannia, allowing the Prince, a Royal Navy man, to indulge his well-known love of the sea.
The telephones on board were never updated. Her Majesty didn’t think it was a necessary expense and kept them as a hotline to Downing Street and beyond.
The Queen’s bedroom, a modest, yet feminine room, features a single bed and a vanity table, outside of view of this photo. What this photo doesn’t reveal is the doorway that opens directly into the sparse, masculine quarters of her husband, Prince Philip.
The Queen’s sitting room and study. This may be the spot where she would open the famous red boxes, her daily correspondence and the business of running the Commonwealth.
And even Her Majesty deserves her day in the sun – and the wood-panelled sunroom provided just the spot for a cocktail and a cuddle with her corgis at the end of a long day. Note the green plastic woven-wicker chairs – and the fully stocked bar. Like we said, gin and Dubonnet. Cheers!
A version of this story was originally published on May 1, 2018