Britannia waves off the ‘Yotties’ as Queen’s crew prepares to revisit some past glories

The Queen’s former yachtsmen are on their way to London to take part in the Jubilee celebrations.

Britannia’s barge will be at the head of the royal procession of about 1,000 boats for the Thames pageant on Sunday.

It will carry the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to the pageant barge the Spirit of Chartwell, flanked by two of Britannia’s escort boats.

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The “Yotties”, the Queen’s one-time royal yachtsmen, will crew the boats and the last coxswain of the barge, Peter Brigham Young, will helm the royal barge.

The boats are heading down the A1 on the back of a lorry, festooned with bunting.

The barge was given a send-off on its 400-mile journey yesterday from Britannia’s dock at Ocean Terminal in Leith, Edinburgh.

None of the boats has seen action since Britannia was decommissioned 15 years ago.

The Yotties and the yacht’s maintenance crew have spent six months re-commissioning the engines. Mr Brigham Young said: “We have a very special relationship with the Queen. It has been 15 years since the royal yacht was last used, and the crew all worked together, so it will be a special day.

“A lot of effort has gone into preparing the barges to transport the Queen to Chartwell. It will be a great occasion.”

During her 44 years in service, Britannia carried the royal family on 968 official voyages and is said to have travelled more than a million miles.

The royal barge was traditionally used to transport members of the family to and from the royal yacht until it was decommissioned back in 1997.

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The Prince of Wales was treated to a look at preparations for the Thames Diamond Jubilee pageant yesterday, meeting craftsmen putting the finishing touches on the Queen’s royal barge.

He visited the Avenue of Sail, where boats too large to travel with the rest of the flotilla will be moored.