‘The Crown’: Remembering Queen Elizabeth’s Floating Palace

The crownThe long-awaited fifth season of opens with a surprise flashback to Queen Elizabeth, played by Claire Foybaptizing the Royal Yacht Britannia to jubilant cheers in 1954, the year after she was crown at the age of 27. The season premiere, “Queen Victoria Syndrome,” then skips nearly four decades to introduce the franchise’s latest iteration of the aging monarch, played by Imelda Staunton, shortly after being branded “irrelevant, old, expensive and out of touch” by her once-adoring constituents in 1991. How far the crown has fallen in favour.

In the face of his advanced age, his country’s aspiration to modernity and a global recession, not to mention a multitude of projects to come scandals involving members of her family – this new chapter will not be joyful for our queen, as the season premiere suggests. And his first heartache comes suddenly in the form of the Royal Yacht Britannia, which, with its operating price of around $18 million a year and its need for costly upgrades, simply seems too lavish and impractical an expense for the public to keep walking.

Nevertheless, the Queen makes a plea during an audience with Prime Minister John Major (Johnny Lee Miller) for additional funding. “All my palaces were inherited,” the queen explains, in one of the least relevant phrases the character has ever uttered. “They all bear the imprint of my predecessors. Only Brittany I was truly able to create my own… From the hull design to the smallest piece of porcelain, she is a floating, maritime expression of me.

The royal yacht Brittany leaving Portsmouth, England with the Royal Family on board for its traditional cruise around the Western Isles of Scotland on August 7, 1997.

By Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images.

The true 412-foot royal yacht, built to replace her predecessor, the Victoria and Albert– was a real treat for Queen Elizabeth and the backdrop for many happy family memories. The ship’s construction came at a delicate time for the royal family, shortly after Elizabeth became queen at a surprisingly young age and Philip was forced to give up his naval career, surname and identity. . Brittany became a kind of release valve for Philip, who had served as Commander of the Royal Navy, and was able to oversee the design of the yacht’s technical features. The Queen, meanwhile, has handpicked fabrics and chintz details down to door handles and lampshades. It was the only house that Elizabeth and Philip had really had a hand in designing and was equipped with a bolt-on piano for singing in the evenings, framed family photos, souvenirs from trips around the world and a terrace equipped with wicker furniture.

Since the Queen and Philip used the yacht on their extended visits to the Commonwealth, the floating palace also featured formal accommodations suitable for entertaining 13 US presidents, including the Eisenhowers, Fords, Reagans and Clintons. In addition to a grand staircase, silver and crystal tableware, and a wine cellar, Brittany featured a state dining room large enough to seat 100 people that could be converted into a private cinema.

The complete privacy offered by the ship is one of the reasons the Queen has described it as ‘the only place I can really relax’. According by Sally Bedell-Smith Biography Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch, the queen even stowed her designer skirts and dresses on board. “It was one of the few times the Queen wore trousers other than on horseback or in outdoor sports, mainly to be able to easily (and modestly) climb up and down the ladders and on the rowboats when they landed on deserted beaches. for picnics,” Smith wrote. The Brittany also provided the Queen with other opportunities to play informality. For example, the sailor on board “was not wearing his cap while at sea, which means that sailors are technically out of uniform and are not required to salute, allowing the Queen to walk around the ship without official recognition,” reported The New York Times in 1983, adding that sailors were doing their best to act invisibly around the monarch. “They were trained to carry out orders on the upper deck, where the Queen’s private quarters are, without words or orders.”

The yacht was also a physical reminder of some precious moments for the family. In 1954, the ship’s maiden voyage reunited the Queen and Philip with their young children, Charles and Anna, after almost 18 months without them. “The ice broke very quickly and we were subjected to a very energetic routine and countless questions that left us speechless!” the queen Told his mother.) From the 1960s, the Royal Family began an annual tradition of cruising through the Western Isles of Scotland en route to Balmoral for the holidays, picnic stop and visit of the Queen Mother at the Château de Mey. There was a toboggan that family members would rush over with joy and humorous performances organized by the yacht’s staff. (The former yacht manager recently reminded the Queen and Philip “absolutely laughed at the stupid antics we did” during her 16 years on board.) When Anne turned 21, she would have celebrated with a party in the State Dining Hall, which had been transformed into a ballroom with a dance floor.

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