The Royal Yacht Britannia in Edinburgh has been voted the UK’s number 1 attraction by Trip Advisor. How lucky then that it’s nearly on my doorstep! But with it being so close how weird is it that I’ve never been before? Last weekend I decided to remedy that fact while I was in Edinburgh and having survived the morning fighting my way through crowds of determined christmas shoppers on a mission I escaped intact and hot-footed down to Ocean Terminal for what was to be a relaxing glimpse into how the other half live.
The Royal Yacht Britannia, built in 1952 to be used by the Royal family, has sailed 1,087,623 nautical miles around the world on 989 official visits to 135 countries. It was built by John Brown and Company in Clydebank and stands at 126 metres long and 37 meters tall
After being decommissioned by John Major on 11th December 1997 it is now berthed in the waters at Ocean Terminal, giving us unique access to see for ourselves how the Royals lived while sailing the seas. Last year over 300,000 people visited the attraction.
The free parking in the multi story was an excellent start to the afternoon and we had a lovely walk through a very Christmassy shopping centre to the top floor, to the grand entrance and visitor centre. Here we learned about the yacht’s fascinating history, saw displays and photographs and picked up our audio headset (available in 27 languages) before we stepped on board.
Five fascinating floors awaited us beginning on the top deck, where we were treated to some lovely views from the captains seat as well as the 50’s style equipment used to control this huge yacht. What really stuck me was how immaculate the yacht was. The spotless white exterior, the light oak flooring, the polished gold and brass and the rich, plush carpets and rugs had me immediately thinking that this is one classy palatial abode. There is also the royal car in it’s own little compartment on deck – A Rolls Royce Phantom V state car if you please! The decks are spacious and dotted with seats so you can take the weight off while enjoying your surroundings and you are able to walk around as you please, without being rushed through. If only more attractions were like that.
You can get a sneak peek into the Queen’s summer room which is apparently where they felt the most relaxed as it’s quite informal and comfortable. We also saw the sitting room where the family met up in the evenings, complete with small tables for the royal children and grand piano where both Charles and Anne learned to play then we even got to see both the Queen’s and Prince Phillips bedrooms. When I left the house that morning I was not expecting to catch a glimpse of the Queen’s bed! It was actually quite surreal and felt slightly like I was intruding, everything has been kept exactly how it was left so you really feel like you are walking in their footsteps. Next to those bedrooms are two guests bedrooms and apparently they would all meet up in the hallway before heading down the grand staircase for breakfast. One of the most impressive rooms is the State Dining Room which has seen such famous people as President Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela. The room is fully set up like it would be for a formal meal and it can actually be hired for evening events. How exciting to be able to say you ate at the same table as Nelson Mandela!
After seeing the luxury and opulence of the royal quarters you then head “below decks” to explore the crews quarters. Now the only “below decks” i’ve ever had the unpleasure of seeing was in the Titanic film and thankfully these were much more comfortable and really quite luxurious. With a petty officers mess (where you can try on some very official looking hats and blazers and pose for a photo with a cuddly corgi and a pint) where the staff would hang out at night, a cosy living room with electric fire (a real log burning fire was deemed unsafe) and library to their own dining room these crew members were well looked after.
You can also see the kitchens where the meals were prepared, the laundry where the uniforms and the royals clothes were washed, gifts given to the family from their trips around the world and even the doctors and dentists surgeries. Quirky little titbits such as the crews tea and coffee lists and the stickers they collected stuck on their lockers, to the fact I now know Prince Phillips liked to take his easel out on the top deck to draw, and he also enjoyed a bit of sunbathing meant I left feeling like I now know a lot more about the family.
I can now see exactly why this attraction is one of the favourites so if your in Edinburgh and want to escape the crowds for a little while I can highly recommend an afternoon on the Royal Yacht Britannia. This 5 star attraction is open every day except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day and is very reasonably priced at £14.00 for adults and £8.50 for kids. Under 5’s are free and you can also get an annual pass for the same price as you have paid for your ticket. If you want a cuppa and some lunch you can visit the Royal Deck Tea Room on board.
I was invited along to the Royal Yacht Brittania but as always my opinions are my own. I thoroughly enjoy my wee day out and think you will to. Have you ever been?