Know before you go – Royal Yacht Britannia

By Kingfisher Visitor Guides

The floating palace now berthed just north of Edinburgh was once the majestic symbol of the Royal Family and the greatness of Britain.

A Royal experience

The Royal Yacht Britannia was launched in 1953. During her 44 years in service, she hosted four royal honeymoons, sailed over one million nautical miles, and welcomed luminaries including Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and many presidents of the United States.

Royal Yacht Britannia, Leith, Edinburgh

Follow in the footsteps of royalty as you step aboard The Royal Yacht Britannia

The history, opulence, symbolism and majesty of HMY Britannia may hark to a bygone era, but today the Royal Yacht sits proudly berthed in Ocean Terminal, Leith as a beacon of hope for the peoples of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and beyond.

Tender loving care

The first sea-going royal yacht in a line of 83 such vessels (stretching back to 1660), HMY Britannia was commissioned just two days before the death of King George IV.

His majesty was already in failing health and it was hoped that Britannia would help the king with his symptoms. The last in the line of royal yachts was launched just two months before the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

The first sea-going royal yacht in a line of 83 such vessels (stretching back to 1660), HMY Britannia was commissioned just two days before the death of King George IV

Honeymoon suite

Britannia’s honeymoon suite (the only room on board with a double bed) hosted the post-nuptial vacations of Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones (1960), Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips (1973), Prince Charles and Princess Diana (1981) and Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson (1986).

HMY Britannia made 696 foreign visits, introducing the British royal family to many nations who had never seen them before. She also undertook 272 trips in British waters, often the summer holidays of royalty. The royal yacht was intended as the safe haven for the Queen and Prince Philip in the event of a nuclear war.

All aboard

You should allow two to three hours for your visit to HMY Britannia. There are five decks to explore along with the Royal Apartments (including the Queen’s bedroom and sun lounge) along with the lavish State Dining Room.

You can also visit the bridge and the staff quarters. Britannia was the last British naval ship to utilise hammocks for the crew to sleep in. Relive life on a true floating royal residence complete with laundry and sickbay.

Bell on Royal Yacht Britannia

Take a selfie next to the iconic Royal Yacht Britannia bell

Make time to visit Britannia’s garage where you will see the vintage Rolls Royce in which the royal family continued their journeys onwards by land. Included in the admission price is a free audio handset tour, available in 30 different languages.

Where can I find the Royal Yacht Britannia?

Britannia is berthed at Edinburgh’s Leith Harbour. The historic docks have been modernised into a tourist destination.

Entrance to the yacht is through the Ocean Terminal, a shopping centre with restaurants and bars. There is a visitor centre exhibiting artefacts and an interactive history of Britannia before you board.

Visit the Royal Yacht Britannia for a great day out


Location: Ocean Terminal, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6JJ
Opening hours: July-August 9.30am-4pm, September-December 10am-3.30pm
Cost: Adult £17, concession £15, child 5-17 £8.75, child under 5 free, family £47
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Image credits: ©Helen Pugh/Marc Millar/Tony Marsh Photography/The Royal Yacht Britannia; Video: Royal Yacht Britannia/YouTube

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