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The Royal Yacht Britannia is now a visitor attraction berthed at Ocean Terminal, Leith Harbour, Edinburgh. It is well worth visiting as the The Royal Yacht Britannia Trust have done a very good job of making it an interesting and informative attraction.
It is worth remembering that this was essentially a Royal Navy Ship with accommodation for the Royal Family. It carried a full-time staff of around 240 naval personnel, of course, arranged in the Naval hierarchical structure. It was obviously a very prestigious posting and although everyone worked hard, life on board Britannia was more comfortable than on other Naval ships. Britannia was designed to be converted into a hospital ship, in the event of war or other disaster. This never happened so it could not be judged how successful it would have been in that role. In the latter years, the claim that it could be converted into a hospital ship within a short period was quietly dropped. Perhaps this is an admission that it really was not suitable. Ths ship does have good medical facilities.
It is good to see that Britannia is doing well it its new role as a visitor attraction and as a venue for high-class hospitality. Although very much loved by the Royal Family, the need for a Royal Yacht must be questioned at this time. The Queen now flies everywhere when on tour (and how many staff does it take to keep a plane in the air?). The Britannia often followed the Queen to provide a home from home and a venue for entertaining. However, the UK Government maintains embassies all over the world whose job it is to represent the Queen and to provide accommodation and hospitality. When Britain no longer has an aircraft carrier, is it right that the Royal Navy should be tied up in providing personnel for a prestigious Yacht?
David Halls 06/02/2012