Remember that nautical themed party I was planning as a farewell to my friend Chris, who is leaving Edinburgh to join the navy? It is now only eight days away, and I’ve done next to nothing in the way of decorations. Or even a costume!
My previous inspiration mostly involved eight year olds’ birthday parties. While quaint and cute and full of great motifs and colours, I’m not sure all of those plans were the most suited to a flat full of men in their 20s and 30s. And the ‘walk the plank’ idea was sure to end in disaster when coupled with the inevitable vodka jelly and Jaeger shots.
So, today my inspiration is grounded in the actual navy. Moored in Leith, just around the corner, the Britannia is the former Royal Yacht of Queen Elizabeth II. Built in the UK and commissioned on 11 January 1954 (thank you Wikipedia), Britannia served as the Queen’s holiday yacht, was used for Royal honeymoons, official ceremonies, trade missions and even evacuated over 1,000 refugees from the civil war in Aden in 1986. Apparently Britannia was also designed to act as the Queen’s nuclear bunker in the event of nuclear war. At the decommissioning ceremony in 1997 the Queen was said to have wept.
Despite living in Leith for almost four years now, my first trip to Britannia was just a few months ago when my parents came up for a visit and a road trip around Scotland. I totally loved it – the audio guide was informative but not dull, the disabled access was outstanding and the details were all retained – the crystal ware still on the shelves, the family board games still in the drawing room. The Royal Yacht reveals all the levels of Royal life – the bedrooms and living areas of the Royals themselves, the working and sleeping areas of the ship staff and crew, laundry room and officers’ bars, and even the (extremely shiny) engine rooms.
I took loads of photos on our tour of Britannia, and these details may help to represent the real life on the ocean waves:
What stands out from these images is that the Royal Navy really is all about the navy and white colour scheme, but not to forget about the use of gold for the official crests and special details. I loved the store of colourful nautical flags and will definitely be using the flag signals somewhere in the party decorations. And that hat – I’d love a hat like that.
I’m wishing I had the budget to just hire the Royal Yacht Britannia – now that would be one unforgettable leaving party.