Certificate no 1919
Status National Historic Fleet


Function Passenger Vessel
Subfunction Royal Yacht
Location Leith
Vessel type Royal Yacht/Hospital Ship
Current use Museum based
Available to hire Yes
Available for excursions No
Info required No


Builder Brown, John Ltd, Clydebank
Built in 1952
Hull material Steel
Rig None
Number of decks 8
Number of masts
Propulsion Motor
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Steam turbine
Boiler type Drum Water Tube
Boilermaker Foster Wheeler
Boiler year 1953
Boiler fuel oil


Breadth: Beam
55.00 feet (16.78 m)
17.05 feet (5.20 m)
Length: Overall
412.30 feet (125.75 m)
Tonnage: Gross
Air Draft
To be confirmed



As 83rd in a long line of royal yachts that stretches back to 1660 and the reign of Charles II, BRITANNIA holds a proud place in British maritime history. Plans to build a new royal yacht to replace the VICTORIA AND ALBERT III began during the reign of King George VI. But The King died in 1952, four months before the keel of the yacht was laid. His daughter, Princess Elizabeth, succeeded him to the throne and the new Queen, together with her husband, Prince Philip, took a guiding hand in the design of the yacht, personally approving plans prepared by Sir Hugh Casson, Consultant Architect and selecting furniture, fabrics and paintings.

On April 16 1953, Her Majesty's yacht BRITANNIA rolled down the slipway at John Brown's Clydebank Shipyard, on the start of her long and illustrious career. Commissioned for service in January 1954, BRITANNIA sailed the oceans for 43 years and 334 days. During that time she steamed a total of 1,087,623 nautical miles, carrying The Queen and other members of The Royal Family on 968 official visits and calling at over 600 ports in 135 countries. In June 1994, the Government announced that Her Majesty's yacht BRITANNIA would be taken out of service.

On 11 December 1997, BRITANNIA was decommissioned at Portsmouth Naval Base in the presence of The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and fourteen senior members of The Royal Family. Some 2,200 past and present royal yacht officers and yachtsmen, together with their families, came to witness the ceremony. Following BRITANNIA's decommissioning, proposals were put forward by cities around the UK, all competing to secure the ship. In April 1998, the Government announced that Edinburgh had been successful in its bid to bring BRITANNIA to the historic port of Leith. It was fitting that at the end of her active life, BRITANNIA should return to Scotland and to a familiar port for her final berth. The Royal Yacht Britannia Trust undertook to preserve this important 20th century icon, in keeping with her former role, and has safeguarded the yacht's place in the nation's heritage for future generations.

BRITANNIA is now a five star visitor attraction and one of the UK's premier corporate hospitality venues.


Classic Boat: Rule Britannia, May 2003
Norman Middlemiss, Shipping - Today & Yesterday: A Diamond Jubilee Tribute - 60 years of Royal yachts and launches, pp22-24, June 2012   

Key dates

  • 1952

    Built by John Brown’s Shipyard on Clydebank

  • 1954

    Commissioned for service

  • 1954-97

    Sailed the oceans for 43 years and 334 days, carrying the Royal Family on 968 official visits and calling at over 600 ports in 135 countries

  • 1986

    Picked up refugees from an outbreak of civil strife and ferried them to the relative safety of Mogadishu

  • 1994

    Government announced that Her Majesty's yacht would be taken out of service

  • 1997

    Decommissioned at Portsmouth Naval Base

  • 1998

    Vessel moved to port of Leith, Scotland for preservation as a visitor attraction

Own this vessel?

If you are the owner of this vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information, please contact info@nationalhistoricships.org.uk