The royal yacht “Britannia” was in active use from 1954 to 1997. That made it available for the now-notorious honeymoon of Charles, Prince of Wales, and his bride, Diana Spencer, in 1981.
From the published photos, all looked blissful. But as we all know many years later, trouble was already brewing in the royal marriage.
The young couple had the use of the only two-person bed on the yacht, in what was usually used as a guest room for distinguished visitors. I think the matrimonial bed was–dare I say it?–queen-sized.
Crew members made do with narrow triple-stacked bunks far down in the bowels of the ship. Still, serving on the Royal Yacht was a plum position in the British Royal Navy.
Crew members got to rub shoulders with royalty. During her honeymoon, a sometimes-bored Diana hung out belowdecks with sailors, all of them no doubt starstruck by the charming and beautiful 20-year-old princess.
The fictional spy James Bond is “officially” a commander in the Royal Navy–an indication of the very high status of the British Navy, to this day. I wonder how he would feel about serving the Princess of Wales with “half a shandy” from the officer’s mess? I can’t imagine it. Instead, I’m sure he would wangle an invitation to dine with royals in the formal dining room onboard.
After dinner, Mr. Bond might suavely lean on the grand piano in the salon, listening to the young Princess play.
Was she any good? I guess we’ll never know. I wish she were alive to see how her sons turned out. Actually, I wish she were alive just for her own sake. The sailors who served the royal couple were given access to a set of photographs of the honeymoon. Some of them were only recently published.
Join me next time for more explorations into the art and the fascinating history of Europe and the British Isles!