On September 8th, 2022, Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms, died at the age of 96 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Here we pay our respects to the longest-living and longest-reigning British monarch.
Queen Elizabeth II surpassed the reign of her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, who spent 63 years on the throne between 1837 and 1901. Unlike the stoicism that Queen Victoria was renowned for, Elizabeth II was an affable, kind and jovial monarch whose British sense of humor stretched far and wide. She saw 14 prime ministers come and go during her reign (Winston Churchill always remaining her favorite) and had just appointed a 15th in Liz Truss days before her death. She presided over landmark occasions, from the marriage of her son the Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, and at one time, she appeared on at least 33 different currencies, more than any other monarch, as noted by Guinness World Records. But it is in the pictures of Queen Elizabeth II at sea where she always looked her most radiant.
The Queen’s role as Commander in Chief of the British Royal Navy naturally meant she spent plenty of time on board boats during her 70-year reign. Her first taste of life on the oceans was aboard the 128m Royal Yacht HMY Victoria and Albert as a young princess in the company of her parents King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. HMY Victoria and Albert was superseded by Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia, also known as the Royal Yacht Britannia, which was commissioned by her father just two days before his death.
Delivered by the John Brown & Co shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland, in 1953 – the same year as the Queen’s coronation – the 126m five-decked Britannia served as a Royal residence for more than 40 years. It sailed over 1,000,000 nautical miles on 968 state visits with the Queen and other members of the Royal Family where they entertained prime ministers and presidents. It also hosted the Royal Family in August during their off-duty holidays to locations such as the Outer Hebrides islands of Western Scotland, where they visited in 1995.
It's widely known that the Queen's favorite room on board Britannia, where she would enjoy breakfast and afternoon tea, was the gorgeous teak-lined sun lounge. It was a family space and offered privacy from the rest of the ship. The Royal deck was used for games and entertaining, while the verandah deck, with its collapsible swimming pool, was where the Royal Family relaxed in privacy, sunbathing or enjoying games of quoits or deck hockey. Prince Philip even occasionally set up his painting easel.
Britannia also proved to be an ideal Royal honeymoon venue - Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones being the first in 1960 – as it was both private and able to sail to secluded locations. The Queen also used the ship to promote trade and industry around the globe. These trade missions were known as ‘Sea Days’ and an invitation to come aboard often proved irresistible to the world’s leading business and political figures.
However, the Queen also enjoyed private charters during her life, the most famous being in 1954, when she sailed into Hobart Harbour in Tasmania with her husband Prince Philip on board the SS Gothic. She became the first, and so far the only reigning British monarch to visit Australia during her Royal Tour.
It was aboard Lady Maurine in 1975 that Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arrived at Kowloon Harbour during their Royal Tour of East Asia. In 1982, when she visited the South Pacific island country of Tuvalu, for which she was the reigning monarch, she was elegantly transported between villages on a Tuvalu canoe, a traditional ceremonial boat.
Monday 19 September 2022 marks the date for the Queen’s State Funeral when Union Flags across Britain will fly at half-mast. Her Majesty The Queen faithfully served her country for decades with grace, resilience, wisdom and courage. In 1953, after her coronation, the Queen pledged herself to a life a service, stating, “All my life and with all my heart, I shall strive to be worthy of your trust.”
She was a woman of her word and will be greatly missed.