By Jake Greenberg / October 6, 2018

Honeymoons and Rolls-Royces: The History of the Royal Yacht Britannia

The ship-turned-tourist-spot was the last of the British royal yachts.

Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia, also known as the Royal Yacht Britannia, is the former royal yacht of the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, in service from 1954 until 1997. It currently sits at dock in Scotland. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)
Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia, also known as the Royal Yacht Britannia, is the former royal yacht of the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, in service from 1954 until 1997. It currently sits at dock in Scotland. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)

The HMY Britannia has been out of commission since 1997, but the last British royal yacht still floats in a Scottish port, secured of a place in history.

HMY stands for “His or Her Majesty’s Yacht,” and during its 44 years on the sea, the Britannia earned its monicker, having hosted its fare share of world leaders and royal honeymoons.

Original owner King George VI died in between the events of the Britannia’s commissioning and its construction. When the ship was ready to launch in April 1953, Queen Elizabeth’s coronation was still two months away. In the queen’s first toast to the new yacht, she announced, “I name this ship Britannia… I wish success to her and all who sail in her.”

For many of the Britannia’s active years, it housed Queen Elizabeth’s Rolls-Royce Phantom V so that the Queen could drive her favorite car on to the docks of whichever port she visited. Throughout its decades, the Britannia was host to four major royal honeymoons, perhaps most famously when Prince Charles and Princess Diana spent time the time after their wedding on the boat in 1981.

By the end of its run, the 83rd royal yacht in history had sailed a total of roughly 1.1 million miles.

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