TAKE A LOOK | Aboard the Royal Britannia Yacht, the British Queen's 'floating palace'
- The Royal Yacht Britannia was the royal family's private yacht from 1953 to 1997.
- It's five stories tall, had more than 240 staff, and was known as the Queen's "floating palace."
- Britannia is now anchored in Leith, Scotland, and reopens as a tourist attraction on May 12.
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For 44 years, the Royal Yacht Britannia carried the Queen of England and members of the royal family around the world.
Built in 1953, it logged over 1 million miles and became known as the Queen's "floating palace."
The five-story ship was part royal residence and part British Royal Navy ship, with a full-time staff of more than 240 royal yachtsmen and officers.
The Queen traveled on the ship for tours abroad, during which she would meet with dignitaries both on land and onboard.
She also used it for vacations like the royal family's annual summer cruise to the Western Isles of Scotland.
The Queen once said that "Britannia is the one place where I can truly relax."
Four royal couples used the ship for their honeymoons, including Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981.
In 1997, the Labour government decommissioned the ship, citing costs as a primary reason. The Britannia cost around £11 million, or R220 million in today's rands, to run each year, Reuters reported.
While the Queen has yet to build a new yacht, that wasn't the end of the Royal Yacht Britannia.
One year later, it opened as a public museum in Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland.
The ship closed to visitors during the pandemic, but is set to reopen on May 12.
Visitors will be able to step into spaces like the teak-lined Sun Lounge, the Queen's favourite room where she took her breakfast and afternoon tea.
The Queen's bedroom, featuring a vanity table, writing desk, and twin bed, is also on display. She and Prince Philip slept separately while onboard the Britannia.
The largest room on the ship is the state dining room, where the Queen entertained dignitaries like Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher. The room could fit 56 guests.
Nearby is the state drawing room, which served as a place for the family to relax as well as a reception area for guests.
Towards the front of the ship are the rooms where the staff lived and operated, like the 24-hour laundry room. Here, yachtsmen and officers would change outfits up to six times per day.
The former royal yachtsmen, known as "yotties," now reunite annually to help maintain the ship.
The clocks on the Royal Yacht Britannia don't get touched, however. They are permanently stopped at 3:01 pm, the time when the Queen stepped off the ship for the last time.
Prince Philip once said that the ship occupies a unique place in royal history. "Almost every previous sovereign has been responsible for building a church, a castle, a palace, or just a house," he said, according to the Royal Yacht Britannia Trust. "The only comparable structure in the present reign is Britannia."