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.
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Hong Kong Voyage
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.
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.
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.