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Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia is the former Royal Yacht of the British royal family, the 83rd such vessel since the restoration of King Charles II in 1660. She is the second Royal yacht to bear the name, the first being the famous racing cutter built for The Prince of Wales in 1893. She is now permanently moored as an exhibition ship at Ocean Terminalmarker, Leithmarker, Edinburghmarker, Scotlandmarker.

Construction

HMY Britannia was built at the shipyard of John Brown & Co.marker Ltdmarker in Clydebankmarker, West Dunbartonshire, UKmarker, being launched by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 16 April 1953 and commissioned on 11 January 1954.

The ship was designed with three masts, a foremast, a mainmast, and a mizzenmast. The top of the foremast and mainmast were hinged, to allow the ship to pass under bridges.

Britannia was allegedly designed to be converted into a hospital ship in time of war, although this never happened and it is debatable that any such conversion would have actually been feasible.

History

During her career as 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 this time Britannia steamed .

On 20 July 1959, Britannia sailed the newly-opened Saint Lawrence Seaway en route to Chicagomarker where she docked, making the Queen the first Canadian monarch to visit the city. U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was aboard Britannia for part of this cruise; Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan also were later welcomed aboard the Yacht. Charles and Diana, the Prince and Princess of Wales, took their honeymoon cruise aboard Britannia in 1981. The ship also evacuated over 1,000 refugees from the civil war in Adenmarker in 1986.

Guests included United States General Norman Schwarzkopf, who commented when he saw the engines: "Well, I've now seen the museum pieces. Where are the real engines?"

Replacement

In 1997, John Major's Conservative government committed itself to replacing the Royal Yacht if re-elected, while the Labour Party declined to disclose its plans for the vessel. Following Labour's victory on 1 May 1997 it was announced that the vessel would be retired and no replacement would be built. The Conservative government argued that the cost of the vessel was justified by its role in foreign policy and promoting British interests abroad, particularly through conferences held by British Invisibles. When cancelling the replacement of the vessel, the new Labour government argued that the expenditure could not be justified given the other pressures on the defence budget (from which it would be funded and maintained). Proposals for the construction of a new royal yacht, perhaps financed through a loan or by the Sovereign's own funds, have since made little headway.

The Royal Yacht's last foreign mission was to convey the last governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten (now the The Lord Patten of Barnes) and the Prince of Wales, away from Hong Kongmarker after the handover of the British colony to the People's Republic of Chinamarker on 1 July 1997. Britannia was decommissioned on 11 December 1997.

Retirement

There was some controversy over the siting of the ship, with some arguing that she would be better moored on the Clyde, 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.

Listed as part of the National Historic Fleet, Core Collection, Britannia is now permanently moored as a five-star visitor attraction in the historic Port of Leithmarker, Edinburghmarker, Scotlandmarker, and is cared for by a Charitable Trust. Entrance to the yacht is via the Ocean Terminalmarker development. She is also one of the UK's top corporate events venues. On 18 May 2006, the Swiss-born Hollywood star and legendary first Bond girl, Ursula Andress, celebrated her 70th birthday on board the Royal Yacht.

A retired Rolls-Royce Phantom V state car, in use by the royal family until 2002, is on display in the purpose-built garage aboard Britannia. Other sights on the five decks that are open to the public include the Queen's Bedroom (behind a glass wall), and the State Dining Room, where a lock of Horatio Nelson's hair is displayed.

 Image:HMY-Britannia-Bow.JPG|Bow of HMY Britannia
 Image:HMY-Britannia Moored in Leith.JPG|HMY Britannia at Ocean Terminal Leith
 Image:HMY-Britannia-Bridge.JPG|Bridge
 Image:HMY-Britannia-Ship's-Bell.JPG|Ship's Bell
 Image:HMY-Britannia-Dinghy.JPG|Ship's launch, "The Royal Barge"


Flag Officers Royal Yachts



Commodore Royal Yacht



Previous Royal Yachts



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