Her Majesty’s Yacht Yacht Britannia may have been decommissioned in 1997 but on Sunday, June 12, 2016 it will ‘sail’ again when a giant model of the yacht will act as a centrepiece of the parade at The Patron’s Lunch. The model, which will stand at six metres long by four metres high, is meant to symbolise the many tours of the Commonwealth The Queen undertook on Britannia—a key element of her long reign.
The Queen’s grandson, Peter Phillips, the organiser of The Patron’s Lunch, said: “At the heart of the parade is a reflection of the organisations of which the Queen is a patron and there is always a personal connection between her and the organisations. We felt it was a nice touch to add the yacht into it and make it a meaningful part of the parade.
“We were thinking about the Commonwealth element of her reign, the Royal tours of the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies. The yacht took her on those tours and projected Britishness around the Commonwealth. It’s something The Queen and the Duke were immensely proud of. They have very fond memories of those tours.”
Designed by Ala Lloyd, the parade will be divided into the decades of the Queen’s reign with costumes and music representative of the relevant period.
The Patron’s Lunch
The Patron’s Lunch is a celebration of The Queen’s role as patron to more than 600 charities and organisations. Designed in the grand tradition of British street parties The Patron’s Lunch will take over the Mall in front of Buckingham Palace in London as 10,000 members of The Queen’s charities and organisations as well as members of the British public sit down to lunch and afternoon tea. The Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and the Earl and Countess of Wessex will lead a walkabout on the Mall which will be followed by 1,500 representatives from the more than 600 organisations for which The Queen is patron.
Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia
Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia was retired by Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Labour government after their election in May 1997 as they argued that the cost of maintaining the vessel could no longer be justified by the British government and, unfortunately for The Queen, proposals for a new royal yacht have never come to anything. It is believed that this decision contributed to tense relations between the royal family and Mr Blair and there has been speculation that this decision—made by Blair and his then-chancellor Gordon Brown—may have been a contributing factor in the decision not to extend invitations to either man to the 2011 wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
From its first voyage in 1954 until it’s last voyage in July 1997 Britannia carried the Royal Family on 968 official voyages and travelled more than a million nautical miles. The Queen has famously been quoted as saying that ‘Britannia is the one place I can truly relax’ and its special place in her heart was made clear during the emotional decommissioning ceremony in Portsmouth on 11 December 1997. Surrounded by most of the senior royals The Queen shed a tear as she said goodbye to a beloved retreat.
Britannia is now moored in the Port of Leith in Edinburgh, Scotland where it is a popular tourist attraction with over 300,000 visitors a year.