The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh arrived in Portsmouth to lead a royal farewell to the ship which had served them for 44 years.
There was a huge security operation in the naval base as the royal yacht Britannia came to the end of a distinguished career at Portsmouth’s biggest state occasion since the D-Day anniversary in 1994.
Twelve members of the royal family were due to attend the decommissioning ceremony with 2,500 past and present yachtsmen and their families.
Also there was defence secretary George Robertson who announced the royal yacht would go to Manchester or Edinburgh, ending Portsmouth’s dream of making Britannia part of the historic dockyard.
He said: ‘Portsmouth has a number of very significant ships already and the decision has been made to be seen in that light.’
The bid failed because of government doubts about the city’s ability to raise the £12.5m needed to turn Britannia into a tourist attraction and worries about the commercial viability of using her as a hotel.