The 60th anniversary of the launch of Royal Yacht Britannia has been marked with a ceremony on board the boat.
The ship was built by workers at John Brown shipyard in Clydebank, near Glasgow, and was launched on the Clyde on April 16 1953.
Exactly six decades on, the historic moment was remembered in a ceremony attended by the boat’s longest-serving yachtsman.
Ellis ‘Norrie’ Norrell, a ‘yottie’ for 34 years, raised a specially commissioned flag in honour of all those who served on board the Queen’s former floating palace.
The Britannia is now a tourist attraction in Edinburgh, hosting around 300,000 visitors a year.
Mr Norrell, 79, from the Portsmouth area, began his working life on board the yacht as an able seaman and rose through the ranks to become warrant officer.
He said he has too many good memories to recall during his time on the ship from 1954 to 1988 but fondly remembers the voyages to the Solomon Islands, Easter Island and the Galapagos Islands around the Pacific Ocean.
Recalling the time he spent working close to the royal family, he said: ‘It was absolutely brilliant. We didn’t come that close but the Queen would walk around and she did meet sailors. If they were polishing the brightwork, she’d come out and have a chat with them and see how things were. She’d find out things probably more than the admiral did sometimes.’
He praised the condition of the boat, so many years on from its launch day.
‘She’s looking very good actually. The brightwork’s all polished, the deck’s well scrubbed. The internal bit is absolutely brilliant,’ he said.
Also at the ceremony was Allan Paterson, 67, originally from Glasgow, who was just seven when he watched Britannia being lowered into the water for the first time.
Recalling the launch day, he said: ‘It was quite daunting for a seven-year-old to be in that massive crowd, standing below the bow of the great ship which was up on stocks, making it even taller.
‘It was very exciting but quite terrifying for a youngster because once the ship started to leave the stocks and slide down, the great pile of drag chains which are there to restrain it made a tremendous noise and a great cloud of dust.
‘Of course I’d never been warned about this. Imagine a seven-year-old with this racket going on; it really was quite frightening.’
Mr Paterson, who lives in Edinburgh, said today is the first time he has set foot on the yacht.
‘The condition of the ship is absolutely incredible. It’s in a beautiful condition. If they keep it in that condition for another 60 years, that would be tremendous,’ he said.
Britannia sailed the oceans for nearly 44 years, travelling more than a million nautical miles and calling at over 600 ports in 135 countries.
For the Royal Family it was a residence for state occasions, official receptions, honeymoons and the annual two-week holiday to the UK’s Western Isles.