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The Crown, Season 5: What happened to the royal family’s yacht?

Yes, the first episode of the season begins with a flashback to the royal yacht HMY Britannia‘s commissioning in 1954. Later in the episode, while vacationing in Scotland aboard the royal yacht, the Queen and Prince Philip discuss how much it will cost to carry out the essential repairs.

Given that The Crown‘s first episode left so many questions regarding the royal boat unanswered and that the program is a fictionalized account of actual events rather than a straightforward presentation of the facts, we dug up some information so you don’t have to.

The royal family has a long tradition of sailing; Charles II received the HMY Mary, also known as His or Her Majesty’s Yacht, from the Dutch in 1660. In actuality, the monarchy has made use of 83 royal boats throughout the ages, the most recent being the HMY Britannia.

The Britannia, sometimes referred to as the last royal yacht, was decommissioned in 1997, and despite some efforts, there are currently no indications that a new one would be built any time soon. The Britannia may no longer be at sea (it is now a popular tourist destination in Edinburgh, Scotland), but it is still an important artifact and a window into royal life; it even had a prominent role in the fifth season of The Crown.

How much did the general public pay for the royal yacht?

Unsurprisingly, the royal yacht wasn’t cheap, and in episode one of The Crown, Prince Philip muses on the expense of restoring the boat, which would total £17 million, with taxpayers bearing a large portion of the cost. Yikes!

What happened to the royal yacht?

In 1994, the Conservative government decided that the 50-year-old yacht HMY Britannia would be taken out of service before the end of the decade because it would cost nearly £20 million to fix up.

“The yacht last had a significant renovation in 1987. In 1996–1997, another refit would be required, with a projected cost of over £17 million, but it would only add another five years to her life. Viscount Cranborne, according to House of Lords Clerk Hansard”Even after the refurbishment, she would still be expensive to maintain due to her advanced age. It has been decided to decommission “Britannia” in 1997 as a result.

Cranborne stated in his speech that the government would think about whether to replace HMY Britannia. If re-elected, the Conservatives promised to replace the royal boat when it was decommissioned.

But the party that won the election in May 1997 was the Labour Party, which had pledged not to spend taxpayer money on a ship for at least the first two years of its rule. After winning the election, Labour looked at several options for a new royal yacht but decided in October of that year that Britannia would remain in service.

Then-Labor Defense Secretary George Robertson declared, “We made clear that we would not spend public money on a royal yacht, and I am honouring that pledge.” The Ministry of Defense is required to justify every dollar of taxpayer money spent, and in this instance, I was unable to do so.

Where is the royal yacht now?

The Queen reportedly shed a tear during HMY Britannia’s decommissioning ceremony on December 11, 1997. Because this was such an uncommon occurrence, it made headlines.

Since its retirement, the HMY Britannia has been berthed indefinitely at Edinburgh, Scotland’s Ocean Terminal, Leith. With more than 300,000 visits annually, it is a well-liked tourist destination.

Netflix will begin streaming The Crown’s fifth season on November 9.

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