Edinburgh Photo Library
- Royal Yacht Britannia

Royal Yacht Britannia

HMY Britannia was built at the shipyard of John Brown & Co. Ltd in Clydebank, and was launched by Queen Elizabeth II on 16 April 1953. The top 20 feet (6.1 m) of the foremast and mainmast were hinged, to allow the ship to pass under bridges. During her career as the Royal Yacht she conveyed the Queen, other members of the Royal Family, and various dignitaries on 696 foreign visits and 272 visits in British waters. In service, Britannia steamed 1,087,623 nautical miles (2,014,278 km). Charles and Diana, the Prince and Princess of Wales, took their honeymoon cruise aboard Britannia in 1981.

Following the Labour Party's election victory in 1997 it was announced that the vessel would be retired and no replacement would be built. There was some controversy over the siting of the ship, with some arguing that she would be better moored in Glasgow, where she was built, than in Edinburgh, to which the yacht had few links. However, her positioning in Leith coincided with a redevelopment of the harbour area, and the advent of Scottish Devolution.

Her Majesty the Queen attended the decommissioning, along with most of the senior members of the Royal Family, and the normally impassive monarch famously shed a tear publicly after disembarking for the last time.

Britannia is now permanently moored as a five-star visitor attraction in the historic Port of Leith and is cared for by a Charitable Trust. Entrance to the yacht is via the Ocean Terminal development. She is also one of the UK's top corporate events venues.

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