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1953: Queen launches Royal Yacht Britannia

Thousands of wellwishers greeted the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh when they arrived at Clydeside to launch the new royal yacht, Britannia.

The Queen, who is to be crowned in June, named the ship at a ceremony at the Clydebank yard of John Brown and Co.

In spite of heavy rain, more than 30,000 people came to hear Her Majesty say: "I name this ship Britannia."

The rest of her speech was drowned out by deafening cheers from the 30,000-strong crowd, mostly employees of the shipbuilders and their families.

They sang Rule Britannia accompanied by a band.

Visit to Dumbarton Castle

The Queen and Duke had a busy schedule prior to the naming ceremony.

They arrived at Dumbarton by train this morning and were greeted by 5,000 children at the station. There the Queen visited an industrial estate, chatted with workers and planted a Scots pine in the grounds.

Then she paid a visit to Dumbarton Castle, the first reigning monarch to come here since Queen Victoria in 1847.

She planted a cherry tree in the grounds before her next visit - to Mountblow housing scheme for the elderly in Clydebank.

Lord Aberconway, chairman of John Brown Ltd, greeted her at the shipyard where she had lunch with company directors before the naming ceremony.

The Royal Yacht has a displacement of 4,000 tons and has been designed so she can be converted to a hospital ship if necessary.

In Context
The Royal Yacht Britannia is one of the world's most famous ships.

She served the Royal Family for 44 years, carried out 968 official voyages all over the globe.

In January 1997, Britannia set sail from Portsmouth to Hong Kong on her last voyage. She was decommissioned on 11 December 1997 at Portsmouth Naval Base at a ceremony attended by the Queen.

In April 1998, the city of Edinburgh won a nationwide competition to be Britannia's new home.

She is owned by The Royal Yacht Britannia Trust and is permanently moored in Edinburgh's historic port of Leith and has become a major tourist attraction.


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