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Wednesday, April 8, 1998 Published at 18:07 GMT 19:07 UK


Britannia given final resting place

Britannia will rest in peace, in the Royal port of Leith

The Royal Yacht Britannia will spend its retirement moored in Leith in Edinburgh.

The government confirmed on Wednesday that the Scottish option had been chosen over a rival bid by Manchester.

The 44-year-old yacht will be the centrepiece of a £60m ocean terminal in Leith, on the east coast of Scotland. The town has been a Royal port for more than six centuries.

[ image:  ]
The announcement was warmly welcomed in Scotland.

Donald Anderson, of the Edinburgh and Lothians Tourist Board, said the yacht would help revitalise the area.

Donald Anderson tells BBC News 24 that Leith is pleased with the announcement
"This is great news for the city," said Mr Anderson. "The Queen is a regular visitor to the city and Britannia has been here many previous times."

In her 44 years of service Britannia has been prominent on the world stage, carrying the Royal Family overseas on state visits.

It has also been used extensively for entertaining foreign dignitaries and has been available for hire for commercial activities.

[ image: Fir for a Queen - inside Britannia]
Fir for a Queen - inside Britannia
But the floating ambassador which clocked up more than one million miles was growing increasingly expensive to run and last year the government decided to decommission it.

A total of nine submissions were made for what do with the yacht. These where whittled down to just two - Leith and Manchester.

BBC News 24's Steve Rawlins says Manchester is a "bis disappointed"
The Manchester Ship Canal Company had planned to berth Britannia in a special dock alongside a visitor centre celebrating the history of the vessel.

It was to be part of a £42m heritage scheme on the doorstep of the Trafford Centre, soon to open as the largest retail and leisure complex of its kind in Europe.

Defence Secretary George Robertson said the decision between the two options had been "very, very close indeed". Both bids satisfied the criteria laid down by the government for preserving the ship he said.

[ image: The ship has been used to entertain foreign dignitaries]
The ship has been used to entertain foreign dignitaries
The decision had been made "on the margins" - the fact that Leith is a port used by ocean-going vessels and was used by Britannia in the past was one factor in swinging the decision its way.

Currently in Portsmouth, Britannia is expected to be towed north to its final resting place in the next few weeks.

Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar said the choice of Leith was "entirely fitting".

"The Britannia's re-location to Leith will provide further evidence of the standard which the comprehensive redevelopment of Leith is now attaining," said Mr Dewar.

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09 Dec 97 | Royal Yacht Britannia
Britannia's resting place - Manchester or Edinburgh?

11 Dec 97 | UK
Royal farewell for Britannia

09 Dec 97 | Royal Yacht Britannia
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07 Dec 97 | UK
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14 Nov 97 | Special Report
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