60 Glorious Years of The Royal Yacht Britannia 1953-2013

The Royal Yacht Britannia, The Queen’s former floating palace, celebrates her 60th Anniversary this month. Echoing the glamour of the era, Britannia is inviting visitors to come dressed in vintage 50s fashion on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 April, launching a week of celebrations to mark the anniversary of this iconic ship. And there will be prizes of Britannia pink fizz for the best dressed visitors.

The week of celebrations will begin with a vintage 50s theme this weekend 13-14 April 2013, with live music from the American Song Book, performed on the same piano, played by both Princess Diana and Princess Margaret. 50s and 60s Rolls Royce and Bentleys will line the quayside. The Royal Deck Tea Room will be serving classics from the period, including A Manhattan cocktail. A giant replica Britannia cake will be on display and complimentary cake and tots of rum will be served all week.

On the day itself, Tuesday 16 April 2013 at 2.15pm, exactly the same time Britannia was launched at John Brown Shipyard in Clydebank in 1953, a ceremony will take place with Britannia’s longest serving Royal Yachtsmen ‘Yottie’, Ellis ‘Norrie’ Norrell MVO RVM, who served aboard Britannia on her first official tour. Norrie will return, to a fanfare of bugles, and raise a new flag, specially commissioned in honour of all those who served aboard Britannia.

Britannia sailed the oceans for nearly 44 years, travelling over a million nautical miles, calling at over 600 ports in 135 countries and generating excitement and admiration throughout the world.

To The Queen and the Royal Family, Britannia proved to be the perfect Royal residence for glittering state occasions, official receptions, honeymoons and the annual two week family holiday to the Western Isles of Scotland and The Queen famously describedBritannia as “the one place I can truly relax”.

Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh took a leading role in the design of Britannia, personally approving plans and selecting furniture, fabrics and paintings. Each room was filled with their photographs, treasured heirlooms, and much-loved possessions and gifts from across the globe.

No matter where Britannia was in the world, however exotic or remote, stepping back on board was always a homecoming for The Queen. Berthed in Edinburgh, and now rated as Scotland’s best visitor attraction, visitors to Britannia are invited to step back in time, follow in the footsteps of Royalty, and celebrate 60 years of this much loved and most majestic of ships.

Visitors can discover the heart and soul of Britannia with a tour of five decks.  The experience begins in the Visitor Centre where you learn about Britannia’s fascinating story. Then step aboard with your complimentary self-led audio handset, which gives a unique insight into what life was like on board for the Royal Family and crew.  Highlights include the magnificent State Apartments, the Honeymoon Suite, the cramped Crew’s Quarters and the gleaming Engine Room. Visitors can also treat themselves to lunch, or tea and cake in the stunning Royal Deck Tea Room.

Chief Executive of The Royal Yacht Britannia, Bob Downie, is very proud that Britannia is celebrating her 60th anniversary and commented:-“For such a renowned British icon to be celebrating her 60th anniversary is a momentous event, a glowing testament to the craftsmen who built Britannia, all who served aboard and those who now look after the former Royal Yacht.”

All photos © Tony Marsh