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The Royal Yacht Britannia, Edinburgh, Scotland

December 28th, 2006 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia was the 83rd Royal Yacht since the restoration of King Charles II in 1660. She is now permanently moored as an exhibition ship at Ocean Terminal, Leith harbour, Edinburgh, Scotland.

HMY Britannia was built at the shipyard of John Brown & Co. Ltd in Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, Scotland, being launched by Queen Elizabeth II on 16 April 1953 and commissioned on 11 January 1954. During her career as Royal Yacht (she was designed to be converted into a hospital ship in time of war, though this facility was never used), she conveyed the Queen, other members of the Royal Family, and various dignitaries on 696 foreign visits and 272 visits in British waters. Prince Charles and Princess Diana took a honeymoon cruise aboard Britannia in 1981. She also evacuated over 1,000 refugees from the civil war in Aden in 1986. In addition, the ship was intended to serve as a mobile refuge for the British Royal Family in the event of nuclear warfare with the Soviet Union. Guest included U.S. General Norman Schwarzkopf, who commented when he saw the engines: "Well, I've now seen the museum pieces. Where are the real engines?"

In 1997, John Major's Conservative government committed itself to replacing the Royal Yacht if re-elected, while the Labour Party declined to disclose its plans for the vessel. Following Labour's victory on 1 May 1997 it was announced that the vessel would be retired and no replacement would be built. The Conservative government argued that the cost of the vessel was justified by its role in foreign policy and promoting British interests abroad. When cancelling the replacement of the vessel, the new Labour government argued that the expenditure could not be justified given the other pressures on the defence budget (from which it would be funded and maintained). Proposals for the construction of a new royal yacht, perhaps financed through a loan or by the sovereign's own funds, have since made little headway

The Royal Yacht's last foreign mission was to convey the last British governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, and Prince Charles, away from Hong Kong after the handover of the British colony to the People's Republic of China on 1 July 1997. Britannia was decommissioned on 11 December 1997

[Source: Wikipedia]

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