Sunday, May 26, 2024

The Royal Yacht Britannia on Leith, Scotland

This is the final post for the wonderful Cosmos tour of 'The Highlights of Ireland and Scotland" my husband and I, along with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law attended in October 2023. Thank you for following along as I posted all my photos and memories. 
On our last day in Edinburgh, Scotland, we had the opportunity to go on an optional excursion to the port area of Edinburgh called Leith, to visit the late Queen Elizabeth II's pride and joy:  The Royal Yacht of Britannia which was decommissioned from service in 1997.

We stepped into the entrance to see the Royal Yacht, that was located in a shopping mall next to the harbor.  We soon found ourselves surrounded by an informational museum dedicated to the yacht, a charming gift shop, and a pathway leading to the ramp structure that would take us to the yacht. This beautifully detailed model of the Royal Yacht was prominently displayed at the entrance, offering a preview of the grandeur that awaited us.

 Please double-click on this photo. and any other image or collage in this post, to enlarge it for a better view.   This schematic shows the different levels and rooms within the yacht.

There were many placards inside the museum with the History of the Royal Yacht, also known as the H. M.Y. Britannia, 

For 44 years of service, the Royal Yacht traveled more than a million nautical miles~

The ship was built by John Brown & Co. at the same shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland, where the famous ocean liners the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary were constructed. With 12,000 horsepower, the ship could travel at a maximum of 22.5 knots (approximately 25 miles per hour), ideal for ocean-going diplomacy. Before its launch in 1953, the royal family used ships from the Royal Navy or even passenger liners for the overseas portions of the royal tour.

In all her glamour and old-world elegance, the yacht served as a residence that welcomed state visits worldwide and entertained family holidays alike.

“Britannia is special for several reasons,” Prince Phillip once said. “Almost every previous sovereign has been responsible for building a church, a castle, a palace or just a house. The only comparable structure in the present reign is Britannia. As such, she is a splendid example of contemporary British design and technology.”

There were many wonderful family photos in the museum.

Our first glimpse from a window in the museum of the Royal Yacht in the Leith Harbor,

Soon, we stepped abroad the yacht.

The first rooms we saw made me realize that the decor was very "mid-century modern" and very functional and unassuming design,

The rooms were viewed behind plexiglass--this was the Queen's bedroom.

This was Prince Philip's bedroom.

The formal dining room, kitchen, and pantry...

Examples of the Royal China dishes.

The Queen's office

The formal living room

The crew quarters varied in design according to rank and they had multiple lounges

The yacht's Naval crew included 220 Yachtsmen, 20 officers, three season officers, and a Royal Marines Band of 26 men during Royal Tours.

There was a full surgical suite, a sick bay area, a laundry, and a post office.

Tucked into many corners of the yacht were displays of royal treasures and nostalgic photos

The sun was setting and we would soon have to meet our tour bus.

My husband and I had a few minutes of fun posing with the displays outside the yacht. We enjoyed our visit to the Royal Yacht very much!

In 1997, the ship was decommissioned after the government decided the costs to refit it would be too great. On its final day in her service that followed a farewell tour around the U.K., the queen openly wept as the Band of HM Royal Marines played "Highland Cathedral."
We learned a trivia that all of the clocks on board remain stopped at 3:01, the exact time that Her Majesty disembarked for the last time.

The ship is now owned by Royal Yacht Britannia Trust, and all revenue it generates from tours and special events goes to the yacht’s maintenance and preservation.

Our last views of Scotland from the airplane!

It was a very wonderful and memorable trip and I look forward to our next adventure.

It's hard to believe that June's just a week away! I have a lot of gardening to catch up on now that our weather is nice, so I'll be on a short blog break. I'll see you all back here very soon.

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Monday, May 20, 2024

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh Scotland

As I wrote in my last post on Edinburgh, Scotland, Part One, our wonderful tour of "The Highlights of Ireland and Scotland" was coming to a close as our last city to visit was Edinburgh.  On this last day, we were taken by a motor coach to Edinburgh Castle at its location on the high volcanic Castle Rock formation.
Edinburgh Castle has played a prominent role in Scottish history and has served as a royal residence, an arsenal, a treasury, a national archive, a mint, a prison, a military fortress, and the home of the Honours of Scotland - the Scottish regalia. As one of the most important strongholds in the Kingdom of Scotland, the castle was involved in many historical conflicts from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century to the Jacobite rising of 1745.


Our tour group was eagerly anticipating entering the gates. We had a special tour guide who would highlight key areas of interest and share the castle's history.

I noticed that two famous Scottish Warriors guard the entrance to Edinburgh Castle--Sir William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, the statue that wears the crown. The statues were erected outside the castle in 1929, though the men had been celebrated for centuries before. Both were prominent leaders during the First War of Scottish Independence, which began in 1296 and lasted roughly three decades.

Sir William Wallace, famously depicted in the Braveheart movie, was one of the first Scottish leaders to revolt against King Edward I of England. After winning the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, he was knighted and named a Guardian of the Kingdom of Scotland. He continued to fight against English rule until his capture and brutal execution in 1305.

In 1306, Robert the Bruce declared himself the King of Scots. Like Wallace, he fought bravely during the war. However, unlike Wallace, Bruce had royal ambitions that fueled his desire to free the Scots from English rule. After years of successful guerrilla warfare, his battles and raids eventually led to the Treaty of Edinburgh–Northampton in 1328. This treaty recognized Scottish independence under his rule, until his death a few years later.

The immensity of the castle grounds became apparent as we climbed the hill, higher and higher.

There were beautiful views of the city of Edinburgh from the top!

The upper area had the large Crown Square where we stopped to listen to our tour guide describe the assorted buildings around the square,

We toured the Royal Palace where the "Honors of Scotland" are kept in the Crown Room in the castle (no photos were allowed inside, but if you click on the photo collage above to enlarge it you can see some photos on the placards outside.)  The Honours of Scotland consist of the Crown of Scotland, the Sceptre, and the Sword of State which are from the 15th and 16th centuries. A more ancient item of Scottish royalty is the Stone of Destiny, which arrived at the castle only in 1996, 700 years after it was removed to England. The stone is a block of sandstone upon which Scottish monarchs were traditionally crowned.

The Great Hall, completed in 1511 for King James IV, is a marvel of medieval Scotland. Its wooden roof is considered one of the most superb in Britain, with giant beams resting on stones carved with heads and symbols such as the thistle – a badge of Scotland.

The Great Hall was the setting for grand banquets and state events. Today, after being restored to its medieval splendor, it showcases weapons and armor that hint at its military past.

We had some free time to walk around the castle grounds and see more incredible views.

St. Margaret's Chapel was built by King David I around 1130 and named in honor of his mother, Queen Margaret. Known for her charitable acts, Queen Margaret was canonized by Pope Innocent IV in 1250. The chapel features original ornate arches and more recent stained glass windows.

Located outside of the St. Margaret's Chapel area is "Mons Meg." It was once considered cutting-edge military technology. Given to King James II in 1457, the six-ton siege gun could fire a 150kg gunstone for up to 3.2km (2 miles). It is named after the Belgian town where she was made.

After many battles throughout Scotland, it ended its fighting days in King James V’s navy, retiring around 1550. After 75 years in England, Mons Meg made a glorious return to the castle in 1829. Cavalry and infantry escorted her from Leith Docks to Castle Rock.

We now returned to the lower level of the castle and exited.

A man in full Scottish regalia played the bagpipes along the Royal Mile outside.  It was the perfect ending to a wonderful visit to Edinburgh Castle!

Later, we took an excursion to see the retired Queen Elizabeth Royal Yacht Britannia--that will be on my next blog post!

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