Facts About Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Yacht Britannia



The Royal Yacht Britannia served as the royal family’s private yacht from 1953 to 1997. The Queen shed a rare public tear when it was decommissioned.

PORTSMOUTH, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 11: The Queen Wiping A Tear From Her Eye At The De-commissioning Ceremony For Hmy Britannia. With Her Are Prince Philip And Prince Charles.

The Queen wipes a rare public tear from her eye at the decommissioning ceremony for Hmy Britannia in 1997.

Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images


The first episode of season five of Netflix’s “The Crown” flashes back to 1954, when Queen Elizabeth christened the Royal Yacht Britannia, and shows the royal family spending time aboard the luxurious ship.

Later on in the episode, when asked if Balmoral is her favorite home, Imelda Staunton’s Queen Elizabeth replies, “There is another that’s even more special to me,” alluding to the Royal Yacht being her favorite.

Despite the Queen’s fondness for the Britannia, the Labour government decided to decommission it in 1997 due to its high operation cost of £11 million each year, Reuters reported. That’s equivalent to about $23 million today.

At the decommissioning ceremony, the Queen shed a rare public tear.

Shouting was forbidden on the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Royal Yacht Britannia - Queen's Bedroom

The Queen’s bedroom aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Courtesy Marc Millar/Royal Yacht Britannia


Officers wore gym shoes to stay silent near areas where the royal family ate and slept, according to the yacht’s official website.

Children were assigned an officer known as a “sea daddy” to look over them while onboard.

Prince William Prince Harry wave from aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia

Prince William, 9, and Prince Harry, 7, wave from the Royal Yacht Britannia under the watchful gaze of the vessel’s captain on October 22, 1991.

Dick Loek/Toronto Star via Getty Images


“Sea daddies” kept royal children entertained with activities like treasure hunts and water fights.

There was a room aboard the ship called the “Jelly Room” that existed for the sole purpose of storing royal children’s jellies, a gelatin dessert that Americans might call “Jell-O.”

Prince Charles shakes hands with a Naval officer before boarding Royal Yacht Britannia for Tobruk, North Africa

Prince Charles shakes hands with a naval officer before boarding the Royal Yacht Britannia for Tobruk, North Africa, in 1954.

PA Images via Getty Images


In addition to the chilled “Jelly Room,” the yacht had a total of three galley kitchens where chefs from Buckingham Palace prepared meals.

The State Dining Room tables, which could seat 56 people, took three hours to set.

The state dining room aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia.

The State Dining Room aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Marc Millar Royal Yacht Britannia


The location of each utensil was measured meticulously with a ruler, according to the book “Royal Transport: An Inside Look at the History of Royal Travel” by Peter Pigott.

All of the clocks onboard the Royal Yacht Britannia are stopped at 3:01 pm.

A clock on Royal Yacht Britannia

Clocks on the Royal Yacht Britannia are frozen at 3:01 pm.

Courtesy Marc Millar/Royal Yacht Britannia


The clocks are frozen at the time the Queen stepped off the ship for the last time during its decommissioning ceremony in December 1997.

The ship had a full-time staff of more than 240 yachtsmen, known as “yotties.”

The Queen and Prince Philip arriving in San Diego on the Royal Yacht Britannia in 1983.

The Queen and Prince Philip arriving in San Diego on the Royal Yacht Britannia in 1983.

Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images


The Royal Yacht Britannia cost an estimated $15 million to operate each year, Reuters reported.

The “yotties” had a daily ration of rum until the 1970s.

Former royal yachtsmen gather on the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Former royal yachtsmen gather on the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Royal Yacht Britannia


Yotties carried out a range of duties, including scrubbing the decks, polishing silverware, arranging flowers, and diving beneath the ship to search the seabed.

The former royal yachtsmen reunite annually to help maintain the ship.

Former royal yachtsmen gather on the Royal Yacht Britannia

Former royal yachtsmen gather on the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Royal Yacht Britannia


Founded in 1989, the Association of Royal Yachtsmen organizes reunions and an annual dinner and dance.





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