Front Page







World Summary

On Air


Talking Point


Text Only


Site Map

Tuesday, December 9, 1997 Published at 14:55 GMT


Britannia decommissioned
image: [ Over a million miles on the clock ]
Over a million miles on the clock

The Royal Yacht Britannia - built in 1953 - is being decommissioned in Portsmouth on Thursday.

The occasion will be marked by the Queen and other members of the Royal Family, who will have their final lunch on board before attending the official paying-off ceremony.

Britannia's future was a talking-point in the run-up to the 1997 general election. Prior to the poll on May 1, the Conservative government announced that Britannia would be retired and replaced with a new yacht.

Labour, however, refused to commit itself and after the party's election victory - and consultations with the Queen - the decision was taken not to replace the yacht.

A busy last few years

[ image: Britannia welcomed many foreign dignataries like President Nelson Mandela of South Africa]
Britannia welcomed many foreign dignataries like President Nelson Mandela of South Africa
Britannia was used extensively during its final year. After the handover of Hong Kong back to China in July 1997, the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the former Hong Kong governor, Chris Patten and his family, left the colony on the royal yacht.

Since 1991, it has been used for four state visits and 24 other overseas visits with members of the Royal Family on board.

Britannia carries more than 300 flags for British royalty, 70 for non-British royals, and 400 national flags and ensigns to welcome foreign dignitaries.

Britannia has also been available for hire for commercial activities. Between 1990 and 1996, there were 60 commercial days on board.

Keeping Britannia ship-shape

The 250-strong crew is made up of 229 ratings known as Royal Yachtsmen and 21 officers. They ensure Britannia is always immaculate for its foreign trips.

[ image: Britannia's sumptuous interior]
Britannia's sumptuous interior
On a typical three month tour the crew will get through 244 tins of brass polish to keep the furnishings gleaming.

Gym shoes are worn by the crew to protect the teak decks and to preserve a regal silence.

The royal quarters take up half Britannia's space. The Queen, her family and staff have the use of 52 cabins.

With a top speed of 22 knots the Britannia is driven by steam and has clocked up more than one million miles - the equivalent of once around the globe for every year of her life.

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage

Internet Links

The Royal Navy

The UK Ministry of Defence

The Monarchy website

The Labour party

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.
In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online

UK Contents

Northern Ireland