Royal Yacht Britannia Afterdeck

Queen for a Day on the Royal Yacht Britannia

by Larissa on September 22, 2015

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The Royal Yacht Britannia, the private yacht of the British royal family, is open to visitors just outside of Edinburgh, Scotland.  No longer in active service, HMY (Her Majesty’s Yacht) Britannia served the royal family for almost 45 years.

The 400-foot yacht was launched in 1953 shortly after Elizabeth II became queen. It was taken out of active service in 1997, due to cost cutbacks in the British government. Today the ship is anchored permanently in Leith, Scotland, about five miles from central Edinburgh. Visitors can tour the ship at their own pace; each admission ticket includes an audio headset that provides self-guided information.

Royal Yacht Britannia at sea

Royal Yacht Britannia during her days at sea.  At 5,500 tons (4% the size of  the Queen Mary 2) the yacht resembles a miniature cruise ship.

The tour is comprehensive. A set route guides visitors over several decks encompassing virtually all aspects of the ship. The dedicated staterooms of both Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip are each on display. Additional staterooms in the family quarters were used by whoever happened to be on board at the time, including honeymooners Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

Royal yacht Britannia Queens bedroom

Queen Elizabeth’s elegant and spacious stateroom aboard Royal Yacht Britannia.

Despite the small number of passengers, Britannia served as the Queen’s official residence while she was aboard, and was often the site of state dinners and receptions wherever the ship was in port. The State Dining Room, which can seat 96, is set as it would be for such a dinner. Although permanently docked, the ship still hosts official royal functions; the pre-wedding reception for Zara Phillips (daughter of Princess Anne) and her fiancee was held on Britannia in 2011.

dining room her majesty's yacht britannia

The State Dining Room on the Royal Yacht Britannia can seat almost 100 for official state dinners.

Those who are more interested in the Britannia’s mechanical side will enjoy visiting the bridge, crew’s quarters and engine rooms.  All are kept in top working order; the crisp white paint and polished brass epitomize the term “ship shape.”

Royal Yacht Britannia-polished brass

From the topmost deck down to the engine room, all the brass on Royal Yacht Britannia is kept well-polished.

After your unofficial “inspection” of Britannia, indulge in a little royal treatment by having lunch or tea onboard. The aft lounge on Royal Deck has been converted into a tearoom, where visitors can enjoy a light meal. With large windows overlooking the gleaming teak decks, relax over tea and a scone, and enjoy the luxury of living the life of royalty . . . even if only for a day.

Royal Yacht Britannia-Afternoon Tea

Visiting Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia

Address:  The Royal Yacht Britannia, Ocean Drive, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6JJ

Website:  For further information visit The Royal Yacht Britannia.

Time to Allow:  About one hour to tour, additional hour for lunch or tea.

Who should go:  Those interested in the Royal Family, lovers of ships and nautical history.

Is it worth it?  At £12 for adults/£ 7.50 for kids (approx. $19/12 US) it’s not cheap, and there may not be enough to keep little ones engaged. But it is a one-of-a-kind vessel, and a true piece of 20th-century British history. And it’s fun to pretend you’re the Queen’s guest for tea, even if you do have to pay for the meal!

And the nautically-minded can stop by the Officer’s Club for a photo op!

Royal Yacht Britannia-officer's club

Like it? Share it . . . Pin it!Feel like royalty--for a day--by visiting Royal Yacht Britannia in Edinburgh, the ship where Princess Diana spent her honeymoon.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

MissElaineous September 22, 2013 at 10:22 am

I had no idea…what a great treasure to visit!!!

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Larissa September 25, 2013 at 11:13 am

It’s an afternoon cruise with royalty–a great combination!

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Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren September 23, 2013 at 2:06 am

I never knew this existed and I consider myself a fan of all things British! Thank you so much for sharing. I’ll definitely be checking this out when I’m in the UK next spring.

Happy travels :)

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Larissa September 25, 2013 at 11:14 am

It was considered quite a coup for Edinburgh to get Britannia permanently. If you like royal stuff, you’ll love it!

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Kate September 23, 2013 at 2:05 pm

The Prince Charles and Princess Diana connection makes me want to visit this!

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Larissa September 25, 2013 at 11:15 am

Lots of Charles and Di memorabilia and photos on board, Kate!

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Alex | Partial Parallax September 25, 2013 at 10:43 am

I’m interested to find this is anchored in Leith it seems quite an interesting boat to look around even if it does sound a little pricey (but what isn’t in the United Kingdom really).
Glad you enjoyed your trip I do love Edinburgh it is such a nice city, happy travels.

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Larissa September 25, 2013 at 11:24 am

It’s a good place to visit if you like following the royals, as it feels more intimate than seeing a palace. Nautical “geeks” could probably spend hours in the engine rooms (a few minutes was enough for me :)).

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Arianwen September 27, 2013 at 4:40 am

I lived in Edinburgh for 4 years while at Uni and never visited the yacht! More fool me!

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Renuka October 3, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Wow! An incredibly royal experience!

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Stacey April 29, 2016 at 8:22 pm

Really enjoyed our visit to the Britannia a few months ago. I was so surprised to see the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh have separate bedrooms. And she sleeps in a little twin bed!
As you mentioned it is a nice little treat to have afternoon tea while on board. That is likely the closest I’ll ever get to dining with the Queen. :-)
One tip I would add is if you know in advance when you’ll be visiting you can buy tickets online and save the wait in the ticket line. Even at the end of December there was at least a 20 minute queue and we were able to walk right on by to join the group to start our visit.

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