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King Charles III

A poignant moment for Charles III as he returns to HMY Britannia as King

The King appeared emotional as he toured the Royal Yacht Britannia, the first time he has returned to the ship since his accession.

His Majesty took a tour of the yacht which is now in permanent dock in Edinburgh.

The visit came at the start of Holyrood Week, the traditional summer visit by the Monarch to Scotland. It is Charles III’s first since he became King and the stay will also see him presented with the Honours of Scotland at a special ceremony at St. Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, his ”Scottish Coronation”.

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His Majesty was welcomed on board Britannia by around 50 ”Yotties”, former crewmates of Britannia who now help care for her.

The King was given a tour of the yacht, once a home from home for him, to see how it is presented to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come on board for a tour every year.

King Charles saw the Engine Room as well as some of the very familiar state spaces, including the Dining Room. The King’s father, Prince Philip, was so fond of this particular room that when Britannia left service, in 1997, he had the table and chairs taken to Frogmore House at Windsor.

King Charles appeared lost in thought at some points of his tour – he spent many happy family times on Britannia.

However, he was also in the mood to celebrate, joining the Yotties in taking a tot of rum.

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He also took the first and last official voyages on the Royal Yacht. When it entered service in 1954, its first journey took the then five year old heir to the throne and his sister, Princess Anne, to Malta where they were reunited with their parents who were on tour. In 1997, just months before it was decommissioned, Charles III was on board as the ship sailed from Hong Kong to England following the handover to China.

The Royal Yacht Britannia was the last of a long line of royal yachts which were used for official visits and to host state events. The first royal yacht was commissioned for King Charles II. It was decided in 1997 by the newly elected Labour government that it was uneconomical to replace Britannia and the tradition of royal yachts came to an end.

Britannia is now permanently docked at the Port of Leith in Edinburgh and is a popular tourist attraction. It’s also used for private events and in 2011, the Royal Family attended a pre-wedding celebration for Zara and Mike Tindall on board the yacht.

King Charles III and Queen Camilla arrived at Holyrood on July 3rd 2023 and will carry out a series of visits around Scotland during their stay.

The King began his first Holyrood Week with the traditional Ceremony of the Keys. The ceremonial presentation was made during a ceremony at Holyroodhouse Palace which saw His Majesty inspect the guard.

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King Charles also visited Kinneil House where he was greeted by crowds of wellwishers on a walkabout.

The Presentation of the Honours of Scotland takes place on July 5th 2023.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.