Touring the Royal Britannia, Edinburgh

One day we had a jaunt out to Leith on the bus. The main attraction was to see the Royal Yacht Britannia – aka The Queen’s Boat, until it was decommissioned in 1997. There are now self-guided tours so you get to look round the whole thing, from living room to engine room!

It was fascinating to see how the Queen and the Royal Family lived on the boat – what decor they chose. It was also really interesting to see “below deck” – how the crew lived. It was an enormous operation to keep the Royal household running smoothly.There are also members of staff floating around (excuse the pun ha ha) who will answer questions and the man I spoke to was really friendly and told me some anecdotes about the royal family, which added to the experience. Above is the lounge, which also had a grand piano. Below is the dining room which often hosted dinners for visiting dignitaries.

We also peeked into the Queens Bedroom (right) and, in an adjoining room. the Duke of Edinburgh’s bedroom (left). I was expecting much more opulent taste considering the wealth available to them, but it was more modest than one might expect (certainly more modest than super rich celebs, all blinged out!). The Queen apparently insisted on re-using the sheets from the old yacht, which was impressively thrifty.

We also saw the guest bedroom, which had a double bed (the only double bed on the ship), which Charles and Diana stayed in on their honeymoon. Then we worked our way down through the ship, past the living room for senior crew (officers and the like).

We also got to see the crew bedrooms, which were triple-stacked bunk-beds. The crew bathrooms were communal (rows of basins, rows of toilets, etc), and reminded me of the bathrooms in a halls of residence when I was at Uni.

There was also stuff we hadn’t even imagined, such as a health clinic, and even an operating theatre!

They also had an industrialised size laundry in order to wash all the clothes and linens for the Royals and the Crew, while away on long voyages. There was also the kitchen which we didn’t really see as it is now used for the cafe.

And finally, the Engine Room. It was squeaky clean; the only sign of grease in here was the elbow grease used to keep the place so damn clean! Apparently a visiting American dignitary said “Okay. I’ve seen the museum piece. Now, where’s the real engine room?” which made me laugh but he is right – this is unbelievably clean!

After your visit you can get a coffee in the onboard cafe, but this closed at 4pm  so we got a drink at the adjacent shopping mall and sat outside looking over the dock of the bay.

Overall, looking round the Royal Britannia reminded me of a combination of a national trust stately home and touring Elvis’s house Graceland. It was an opportunity to see living history, as the Royal Family who used the ship are alive and well, so it’s not just a historical relic. I would definitely recommend it if you are a fan of the Royals, massive yachts or just interested in poking your nose around and seeing how the other half live! 🙂

next blog: Food in Edinburgh

previous blog: Edinburgh, Scotland

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