Running a tight ship: 14 facts about the HMY Britannia

For The Queen, the tourist attraction Britannia was once a home away from home. Here are 14 facts about this unique royal residence.

1. She was the last ship in the Royal Navy in which the sailors slept in hammocks.

2. The only ship in the world whose captain, by tradition, was always an Admiral (until 1995, when a Commodore was appointed)

3. Orders were given to the ship’s company by hand signal to preserve tranquility.

4. Facilities included a garage for a Phantom Five Rolls-Royce or, occasionally, the royal Land Rover. The Rolls could only be squeezed into the garage by removing the bumpers and winching it on and off the ship was no easy task.

5. Some of the furniture was designed by Prince Albert in 1856.

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6. In order to prevent untidiness, flags, when dressed, are unfurled from and stowed in the funnel.

7. The wheel came from Edward VII’s racing yacht, also named Britannia.

8. Her Majesty’s bed linen had been bought for Queen Victoria’s bedroom on the previous royal yacht, the Victoria and Albert. It’s embossed with the personal monogram ‘HM The Queen’.

9. The Wardroom played ‘Wombat Tennis’ with a soft toy presented by a lady in waiting. It was thrown at the ceiling fan, then batted around the room.

10. Britannia is 412ft of streamlined elegance, with no rivet marks and no name on her side.

11. During the 44 years of her life, she sailed more than one million miles, the equivalent of once round the world for each year, calling at more than 600 ports in 135 countries.

12. Britannia was manned by 220 yachtsmen, 21 officers and three season officers and a Royal Marine band of 26 on royal tours.

13. She was the only vessel in the Navy to have its own 24-hour laundry. Intended to double as a hospital ship, Britannia was fitted with stabilisers and has what is considered a large laundry, although it hardly looks big in relation to the requirements of a complement of 270 officers and crew needing to be spotlessly turned out, often in sweltering temperatures.

14. The 1930s racing yacht Bloodhound, moored beside Britannia and owned by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh from 1962 to 1969, can be hired for private day-sailing from Oban Marina around Scotland’s west coast. She is manned by an experienced crew, including former royal yachtsmen.


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