Geo: 51.5002, -0.126236
I hate having to say goodbye at breakfast, but James started telling my table about our own primaries, and that was enough for me.
I took a city bus out to Leith to see the Royal Yacht Britannia, which is now moored permanently there. I have a vague memory of it coming to Seattle sometime in the early '80s. It was decommissioned in 1997 and was the last of a long line of royal ships stretching back to 1660. Queen Elizabeth christened her in 1953, and "Britannia" was a very popular name with the people. The Queen said it was the only place she felt she could truly relax.
It was initially commissioned for King George VI, but he died before it was finished. The Queen and Prince Philip then took a keen interest in the design and furnishing of the yacht. Over the decades, it hosted the Royal Family on many, many occasions, as well as foreign monarchs, prime ministers, and presidents. Photos of the royals when they were on board show them looking very happy and relaxed, even when dressed to the nines for state dinners.
When on board, the royals were looked after by members of the Royal Navy,
protected by the Royal Marines, and captained (if that's the right word) by an admiral or a commodore. It was the only boat on which servicemen were addressed by their first names. Daily, crewmen dived beneath the boat to check for explosive mines. They had tiny quarters - but several areas to spend free time - and they mostly communicated through hand signals because the Queen liked it quiet when at sea. Former servicemen who served on Britannia are referred to as Yotties.
Mistakes were not tolerated on board, but nobody's perfect. There's a laundry on board, and one time everything came out a pale shade of blue. The Queen's dresser was Not Happy! It turned out to have been a reaction in the copper piping, and it was soon fixed. There were also kitchens for the Yotties and the royals, a larder, a pantry, a silver pantry, a few bars, and an infirmary complete with operating room.
The engine room is a throwback (not that I've seen many engine rooms), all white and gleaming brass. General Schwarzkopf, when shown the engine room, said, "Okay, I've seen the museum piece; now where's the real engine room?"
As far as "royal" rooms, you can
see the Queen's bedroom, Prince Philip's bedroom, the "honeymoon suite" (used by Prince Charles and Princess Diana and other royal newlyweds), the Queen's office, reception rooms (where Princesses Margaret and Diana both played the piano; the sheet music on the stand is "Rule Britannia"😉, and the state dining room. The royals also enjoyed being out on the decks, and the Queen in particular loved to sit in her sun lounge.
I spent around two hours going through the yacht and enjoyed myself thoroughly. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to visit. There is a tea room on board, but I had lunch in the Britannia View Restaurant which is in the mall adjacent to the pier. I figured it would be cheaper. One panini later I was on the bus riding back into town.
Some of that end of the city reminded me a lot of Amsterdam because there were a couple of canals lined with houses. I rode on the upper deck of the bus right at the front, so I had a great view. When we got back to Princes Street, it started to snow. I took my rain hat out of my bag for when I got off
the bus, but by the time I did there were only a few flakes falling. The snow stayed away while I walked back to the hotel to retrieve my suitcase, and I stayed dry walking back to the tram too. I really lucked out this trip with the weather. I only had to open my umbrella on my first day-and-a-half in London, and I wore my rain hat in Scotland for probably less than 15 minutes total. Not bad, I say.
I got to the airport a little too early, so I roamed around and looked in all the shops. The flight was more or less a non-event, and we arrived at Heathrow a little before 7:00 p.m. I'm staying the night at the Hilton Terminal 4. My room looks out at T4 and I haven't heard any planes or traffic, except the occasional faint rumble. I don't have to check out till noon tomorrow, so I think I shall sleep in!
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