The Royal Yacht Britannia was an iconic symbol of the Commonwealth. She played an important role as Her Majesty The Queen became the most travelled monarch the world has ever known, entertaining Heads of Commonwealth countries as if they were at a Royal palace on British soil.
Britannia was the first Royal Yacht designed with complete ocean-going capacity to travel the globe. It was a role she more than fulfilled, travelling over a million nautical miles around the world in her 44 years of Royal service. As The Queen stated during a brief speech at Britannia's launch in 1953:
"…For he (her Father, King George VI) felt most strongly, as I do, that a yacht was a necessity and not a luxury for the Head of our great British Commonwealth, between those countries the sea is no barrier, but the natural and indestructible highway."
The beauty of Britannia was her ability to visit remote island communities, many of which were inaccessible by air. One of her first roles as Royal Yacht was a tour of the Commonwealth, lasting almost six months. It was the first time The Queen had visited some of the countries. Gifts were often presented to members of the Royal Family, many of which are now on display in Britannia's State Dining Room, kindly on loan from the Royal Collection.
During her time in service, the Royal Yacht hosted many Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings. As part of this, The Queen would hold 20 minute audiences with each Head of State in her Study to discuss their country's current issues. In addition, a formal dinner would be held in the State Dining Room in honour of all the Heads of State.
Britannia also visited New Zealand in 1974 as members of the Royal Family attended the Christchurch Commonwealth Games. In 1976 she sailed to the Montreal Olympics with the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, as Princess Anne competed in the British Equestrian team. In 1982, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh opened the 12th Commonwealth Games in Brisbane, Australia.
The fantastic video below explains more about The Queen's role in the Commonwealth and shows events taking place aboard Britannia:
Read more about her global visits here.
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