Depicted in the new season of the Netflix hit, the final official journey of the royal yacht—which was said to be one of Queen Elizabeth II’s favourite spots—took place in Hong Kong in 1997, when the city’s sovereignty was transferred from Britain to China

Season five of The Crown, released on Netflix this month, depicts the final official voyage of the Royal Yacht Britannia, also known as Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia, which took place in Hong Kong during its handover from Britain to China on July 1, 1997. 

The Britannia, which Queen Elizabeth II was said to have described as “the one place where I can truly relax”, was decommissioned later that year, marking an end to more than four decades in service. 

Here, we journey down memory lane through photos of the Britannia in Hong Kong, take a glimpse at its storied history—and peek into its elegant interiors. 

In case you missed it: Inside the Hong Kong Luxury Villa Nicole Kidman Called Home While Filming ‘Expats’

Hong Kong Voyage

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Chris Patten, the 28th and last Governor of Hong Kong, prepares for the official handover of the territory to China as the 99 year lease officially expires at midnight on 1st July 1997. Pictures shows: The band of the Royal Marines performs beat retreat, in front of the Royal yacht Britannia in Hong kong harbour on Sunday evening. The Royal yacht will leave Hong Kong tomorrow after the hand over to Chinese rule, 29th June 1997. (Photo by Bill Rowntree/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
Above At the handover, the band of the UK Royal Marines performed in front of the Britannia (Photo by Bill Rowntree/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

In 1997, the Britannia whisked away Hong Kong’s last governor Chris Patten, as well as the then-UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and King Charles, then the Prince of Wales, who were in the city to mark the end of its British colonial rule.

The officials bid farewell to Hong Kong citizens, boarding the Britannia at Tamar just after midnight on July 1. 

This was not the only time the royal yacht had sailed into Hong Kong—it was also present during the Queen’s visit to the city in 1986.

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The Royal Yacht Britannia moored in Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Above Britannia moored in Victoria Harbour before the handover (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
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The Prince of Wales, boards the Royal Yacht Britannia this afternoon (Saturday) and studies the skyline in Hong Kong harbour, after his arrival in the far east, for the hand over to Chinese rule on Mondayat midnight. PHOTOGRAPH BY JOHN STILLWELL/PA.   (Photo by John Stillwell - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Above Charles boarding the Britannia (PHOTOGRAPH BY JOHN STILLWELL/PA. (Photo by John Stillwell - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
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The Royal yacht Britannia, leaves the harbour in Hong Kong this evening, and glides past the Convention centre (right),where the new governing body of Hong Kong were being sworn into office. PHOTOGRAPH BY JOHN STILLWELL/PA.   (Photo by John Stillwell - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Above The Britannia by the Convention and Exhibition Centre in 1997 (Photo by John Stillwell - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
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HONG KONG - JUNE 30:  The Handover of HongKong to China in Hong Kong city, Hong Kong on June 29, 1997 - Departure of britannia from hong kong.  (Photo by Pool AVENTURIER/BUU/HIRES/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Above The arrival of the Britannia to Hong Kong in 1986 (Photo by POST STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/South China Morning Post via Getty Images)

Minimal Interiors

The Britannia began service in 1954 and was an official residence for the Queen and Prince Philip. British architect Hugh Casson designed it, and the Prince oversaw its construction. 

The “understated elegance” of the royal yacht was a reflection of the austerity of the post-war period, the time in which the Britannia was built, according to its official website. 

The yacht had a dining room, a drawing room, sitting rooms, as well as cabins for naval officers. The bedrooms had en suite bathrooms and dressing rooms. 

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The Drawing Room on the Royal Yacht Britannia, 1978. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Above The Drawing Room, 1978. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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The Duke of Edinburgh's Sitting Room on the Royal Yacht Britannia, 1981. (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Above Prince Philip's Sitting Room, 1981 (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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The Sitting Room on the Royal Yacht Britannia, 1978. (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Above The Sitting Room, 1978 (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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The Sun Room on the Royal Yacht Britannia, 1981. (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Above Prince Philip's Sitting Room, 1981 (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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The Dining Room set for dinner on the Royal Yacht Britannia, 1981. (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Above The Dining Room set for dinner, 1981 (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

A Sanctuary for the Royal Family

The Britannia was a honeymoon venue for many of the royals, including Charles and Diana Spencer in 1981; Princess Anne and Mark Phillips in 1973; and Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1960.

The Queen was said to be fond of the yacht. At its decommissioning ceremony in Portsmouth in England, she was seen shedding a tear, according to the Britannia’s website.

The yacht is now permanently berthed in Edinburgh and is open to the public for visits. 

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Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Charles, Prince of Wales, and Anne, Princess Royal on Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia at the Port of Southampton, Hampshire, 1958.  (Photo by George Stroud/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Above The Queen, Prince Philip, Charles and Anne on the Britannia at the Port of Southampton in the UK, 1958 (Photo by George Stroud/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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GIBRALTAR - AUGUST 01:  Prince Charles With His Arm Around Princess Diana At The Rail Of The Royal Yacht Britannia At The Start Of Their Honeymoon Cruise.her Outfit Designed By Donald Campbell  (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
Above Charles and Diana on board the Britannia in Gibraltar, on their honeymoon (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
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*Scanned low-res from print* Queen Elizabeth II waving from the Royal Yacht Britannia to the cheering crowds on Tower Bridge as the Royal Yacht passed under the bridge on her departure from the Pool of London.   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Above The Queen waving from the Britannia to the cheering crowds on Tower Bridge as the Royal Yacht passed under the bridge on her departure from the Pool of London (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
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