Her Majesty at Britannia's decommissioning ceremony © PA
On 23 June 1994, John Major's Government announced there would be no refit for HMY Britannia as the costs would be too great. After a long and successful career spanning 44 years and travelling over 1 million miles around the globe, it was announced that the last Royal Yacht was to be decommissioned.
There was no immediate decision about a replacement, but the question of a new Royal Yacht became a political issue in the run up to the 1997 General Election. The Conservative Party's Secretary of State for Defence announced that if they were to be re-elected, they would build a new Royal Yacht, funded entirely from public monies. However, the Labour Party opposed this, stating the expense could not be warranted given the state of the economy. After the election, the new Labour Government eventually confirmed in October 1997 there would be no replacement for Britannia.
On 20 October 1997, HMY Britannia left Portsmouth on her farewell tour around the UK. This was a clockwise circumnavigation of Britain, calling at six major ports, including Glasgow. As she sailed past John Brown's Shipyard, she gave a blast on her sirens, in fond farewell to the yard which had proudly built her.
It was a sad day when The Queen finally bid farewell to a ship that had so faithfully served her family and her country for over forty years. All the clocks on Britannia were stopped at 15:01, the time The Queen was piped ashore for the last time. This was one of the few occasions The Queen publicly shed a tear as The Band of HM Royal Marines played the highly emotive 'Highland Cathedral.'
Download The Queen's Paying-Off Ceremony letter.
Book your tickets
Share this page