EDINBURGH For an evening to remember, and one with royal overtones to boot, groups with events in Edinburgh can dine on The Royal Yacht Britannia.
For more than 40 years, this nautical icon, now docked permanently the Ocean Terminal in Leith, has sailed over one million miles on nearly a thousand official visits for the British Royal Family. Glittering state visits, official receptions, honeymoons and family holidays, she was home to Queen Elizabeth and her brood and eventually, their children. She was decommissioned in 1997, a ceremony which reportedly made the English sovereign weep.
When guests arrive at the pier, they are greeted on the quayside with the beautifully lit up Britannia and a red carpet to meet them. They are then led to the State Drawing Room (below), where Her Majesty entertained the great and the good. And it's where champagne and canapes are served all around.
A guided tour of the facilities follows, after which the doors of the State Dining Room open to reveal a space that has welcome many famous and prestigious personages. Adorning its walls are gifts presented to the Queen on her numerous travels.
According to Andrew Thompson, The Royal Yacht Britannia head of hospitality and events, the experience duplicates as many details that a state banquet in the past could boast of. The silver candelabra and fine china, cutlery and menu cards are all inscribed with Britannia's distinctive royal crest.
Each selection is freshly prepared on board in the Royal Galley by the executive chef and his team "using only the finest ingredients", said Thompson.
The group size that can be accommodated in the State Dining Room is up to 176 people, while drinks receptions on the Royal Deck can be held for up to 380 people. Areas can be combined or used independently depending on the client.
Even the after dinner entertainment has a royal connection with a choice of the Queen's Royal Marines band or dancing on the Royal Deck to the sounds of a ceilidh (Gaellic music) or jazz or swing band.
Racing yacht charter
Another possession of the Royal Family – the 1930s racing yacht Bloodhound – has also been made available to the public. In July and August of 2013, the fully restored 63-foot vessel will be based in Oban Marina in the West Coast of Scotland and open to day charters for groups of eight persons.
All proceeds from the events go to The Royal Yacht Britannia Trust, a registered Scottish charity that takes care of this attraction.
For more details, visit www.royalyachtbritannia.co.uk
Margie T Logarta