16.04.

1953: Royal yacht “Britannia” – Last Refuge of the Queen in Case of Nuclear War

1953: Royal yacht “Britannia” – Last Refuge of the Queen in Case of Nuclear War
Photo Credit To http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/files/2010/07/brit.jpg

“Britannia” is 126 meters long. Interestingly, she was built in Scotland, not England. In the event that there was a nuclear war with the USSR, the yacht was supposed to serve as a refuge for the Queen.

On this day the new British royal yacht named “Britannia” set sail. It was launched, of course, on behalf of the ruling Queen Elizabeth II, and became her official vessel. It was the last British royal yacht to be commissioned. Interestingly, it was built in Scotland, not England.

“Britannia” is 126 meters long and could hold up to 250 guests. In addition, she had 250 crew and 21 officers, so that as many as 521 people could be onboard at the same time. The yacht had a 12,000 horsepower engine, allowing speeds of up to 39.8 km/h.

In the event that there was a nuclear war, the yacht was supposed to serve as a refuge for the Queen. Namely, in that case the queen was to board the yacht and sail away to a secluded cove on the north coast of Scotland (these secret plans came to light only recently).

On her maiden voyage, the yacht sailed from Portsmouth, England all the way to the island of Malta, which at that time was still under British rule. Over the years, many foreign dignitaries, such as U.S. Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton, were guests aboard the “Britannia”.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana made their honeymoon cruise aboard the “Britannia” in 1981. The yacht also had an interesting part in the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong from Britain to China. Specifically, Prince Charles and former British governor Chris Patten (now Lord Patten) set sail from Hong Kong on the yacht, symbolically leaving the former British possession. “Britannia” was retired in 1997 and the British royal family no longer has an official yacht.

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