Sunday, August 31, 2008
In June I went away for a few days to Edinburgh, which is now home to The Royal Yacht Britannia where she is moored as a permanent exhibition. HMY Britannia was launched by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 16th April 1953. 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. This included a honeymoon cruise for the Prince of Wales and Diana in 1981. One notable guest about the yacht included US General Normal Schwarzkopf, who commented when he saw the engines: "Well, I've now seen the museum pieces. Where are the real engines?" as Britannia's engine room was always kept spotless by the crew as a matter of pride.
I couldn't pass up the chance to visit such a piece of British History while I was in the city so we made our way to the Ocean Terminal, Leith where she is now moored. The photo above is of the bridge and is where the tour begins. I had no idea how big Britannia was until I saw her for myself. Somehow you never really get the 'bigness' of something when you see it on the television.
The tour took you on a specific route throughout the yacht, but otherwise you were free to do the tour in your own time with the auditory guide providing information on each room. It covered both the Royal Family quarters and the crews. The photo above is of the officers bar, which linked to their lounge. It is the playing field of a little known sport called 'Wombat Tennis'. The aim was for two sides to get control of the wombat and get him on the ceiling fan. The wombat was a gift from one of the ladies in waiting and he still resides there on the ceiling fan.
This photo is of the crews sleeping quarters. A large part of the yacht was given to housing the large crew that was needed to keep the yacht running smoothly. Britannia was also designed to be converted into a hospital ship in time of war, although this never happened and she had medical quarters including a small ward and surgery. She was used to evacuate over 1,000 refugees from the civil war in Aden in 1986 though.
The Royal living quarters are in sharp contrast to those of the crew, being much more spacious and rich. The photo above is of the family lounge where they liked to gather after dinner for tea and coffee and play cards and other games. The photo below is of the sumptuous dining room where many a distinguished guest from around the world was entertained. The walls of the dining room are adorned with various gifts that were given the Royal Family.
The photo below is of one of the Royal bedrooms. Britannia had adjoining bedrooms for The Queen and Prince Phillip and across the hall was a room containing a double bed which was bought on board the yacht by Prince Charles for his honeymoon cruise with Diana.
A couple of weeks ago I ran a contest asking 'Whose bedroom is this?' and so the answer is of course HRM Queen Elizabeth II. Two people got the answer correct so I will send each a postcard as their prize as promised. They were Niall from Dancing for Beginners and Rashbre from Rashbre Central. Both have excellent blogs and are well worth a visit. Niall does some amazing art simply using tiny dots and Rashbre is a great photographer. Guys, if you would like to claim your postcard then send me your postal address via email on my profile page. It was difficult to get a decent shot of the yacht where she is moored so I thought I would post a stock pic of Britannia from the web so you can see her in her full glory.
Before I go, thanks to everyone who has wished me well while I have been ill. I went back to the doctors and this time came away with a cocktail of drug that are pretty strong but seem to be doing the trick. I have been signed off work for ten days to rest and quite frankly that is a relief as the side effects from the tablets are pretty awful and include trembling and shaking, hot flushes that leave me clammy, dizziness and lack of sense of taste. But hey, at least I can breathe again and the cough seems to be on the retreat. At last.