Skip to main content
Horizons article 06 September 2021

A look back: HMY Britannia

  • Yacht
Issue 59

As the silver model of Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia, a gift from Lloyd’s Register to The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh in 1972, is on display at Holyrood Palace to commemorate the life of HRH Prince Philip, we take a look back at HMY Britannia, the royal yacht built to LR class.

The 126-metre royal yacht, HMY Britannia, and its machinery was built under special survey of LR at John Brown & Co. Ltd shipyard in Clydebank, Dunbartonshire for the Admiralty. The yacht was launched by Queen Elizabeth II on 16 April 1953 and commissioned on 11 January 1954.

HMY Britannia Commodore JR Fanshawe CBE RN
Photo credit: Marc Millar

The yacht was considered to be a naval vessel which meant it was built under LR special survey, went through the Classing Committee and then disclassed almost immediately, as was the case before LR established its Naval Ship Rules. Inspections, surveys and maintenance then became the responsibility of the Department of Naval Constructors on behalf of the Admiralty.

HMY Britannia was then omitted from the Register after being disclassed but did appear in the 1955 edition of the Lloyd’s Register of Yachts. During its 44-year career, the yacht travelled more than a million nautical miles around the globe. Now retired from royal service, HMY Britannia is permanently berthed at Ocean Terminal, Leith in Edinburgh, Scotland. 

During 44 years in Royal service Britannia sailed the equivalent of once round the world for each year, calling at over 600 ports in 135 countries. The full crew comprised of 220 Yachtsmen, 20 Officers, three Season Officers and during Royal Tours, a Royal Marines Band of 26 men. Unlike any other ship, Britannia was captained by nine Admirals and latterly a Commodore.

Lloyd's Register

Five minutes to midnight