Friday, April 16, 2010

Pop History Moment: Queen Launches Royal Yacht Britannia

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On this day in 1953 thousands were on hand to welcome the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh when they arrived in Scotland to launch the new royal yacht, HMY Britannia, just six weeks before her coronation...

was built by John Brown & Co. Ltd in Clydebank, with the hopeful intention (sadly, unmet) of giving Scotland's once-mighty shipbuilding industry a badly needed boost. What was given a boost, though, was morale; of an afternoon the crowd heartily cheered their beautiful young queen, sang Rule Britannia, and momentarily forgot the ration cards and the bomb craters, even in a heavy rain.

Over the next forty years, the Royal Yacht Britannia would convey the Queen and her family to ports of call across the globe, covering more than a million nautical miles; for a nation fond of its nautical lore, the vessel - a floating palace, really - would help make Elizabeth II that seafaring nation's seafaringest monarch ever.

Designed for use as a hospital ship in times of war, thankfully Britannia was never called upon to that end; she did once convey a thousand refugees from a civil war in Aden, though, in 1986.

Britannia was decommissioned in 1997; now permanently moored at Leith's Ocean Terminal, she currently serves as an exhibition ship, hosting conferences, banquets, and the like.
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