On this day in history : 16th April 1953 – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II launches the Royal Yacht Britannia in a ceremony at the yard of John Brown & Co, Clydebank, Scotland….
30,000 people gathered at the dockside in the pouring rain; workers at the dockyard had been given a day’s holiday and children had been let out of school for the day…. The wet weather did not dampen the spirits of those who turned out to see the Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, launch the new royal yacht….
The name of the ship had been kept a close-guarded secret….it was not until the moment of launch that it was revealed…. Her Majesty, dressed in a black coat with matching straw hat, pressed a button and a bottle smashed against the side of the yacht…. “I name this ship Britannia”….the rest of her words ….“I wish success to her and all who sail in her”….were almost drowned out by the cheers of the crowd…. The band then struck up ‘Royal Britannia’ and the crowd joined in by singing along….
The cost of the yacht was £1.8m (equivalent to over £49m today) – some might call this an extravagance so soon after the War but savings had been made where possible…. Many of the fixtures and fittings onboard had been recycled – particularly from Queen Victoria’s royal yacht ‘The Victoria and Albert’…. Even the bottle used in the launch ceremony contained Empire wine, as champagne was considered too extravagant….
For more information of HMY Britannia On this day in history….20th January 1997 ….