Rockin’ in like a royal in Edinburgh


If your invitation Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding was lost in the mail, don’t fret. Here are some ways to rock it like a royal in Edinburgh.

Start with the Royal Mile, which is actually 1.12 miles (based on the old “Scots’ mile”) and is about as royal as miles come. The sloping backbone of the Scottish capital is bookended by Edinburgh Castle, crowning the imposing Castle Rock at the top of the road, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse (the queen’s official residence in Edinburgh) at the bottom. The street in between is lined with higgledy-piggledy, charming old stone buildings, most with shopfronts displaying cashmere, kilts, whisky, wine, Harris tweed and wee gifts. “Thistle Do Nicely” definitely wins for worst pun/best shop name.

Once you’ve visited the drafty chambers of Edinburgh Castle and seen the stiff grandeur of Holyroodhouse, head to the Royal Yacht Britannia to see how modern monarchs actually prefer to live. It’s so modern, in fact, that visitors enter through … a shopping center.

While it’s fun to picture the queen popping into Poundworld for a pair of pantyhose, the mall isn’t actually part of the relatively modest, 412-foot yacht. The queen’s floating palace was simply moored out the back after it was decommissioned in 1997.

As the ship was built shortly after the end of World War II in an era of “make do and mend,” Queen Elizabeth was keen to steer clear of majestic excess. In fact, she famously rejected initial designs by Patrick McBride as being too lavish and asked Sir Hugh Casson to collaborate on a more casual, comfortable style. Ship guide Roger Moran relates an anecdote he heard from Casson’s daughters, who said their father drew McBride aside and assured him, “I’m going to treat your design like a lawn — and just take the whole thing down about half an inch.”

RELATED: What’s new in Britain and Ireland for 2018

So instead of silk and tapestries, the State Drawing Room is kitted out with floral sofas and a practical electric fireplace, as well as a grand piano whose ivories have been tinkled by the likes of Noel Coward, Princess Diana and Nancy Reagan. While the dining room is large, with a 32-seater mahogany table, it also did double duty as the ship’s chapel and cinema. “James Bond and Disney were particular favorites,” Moran reveals with a smile.

The coziest rooms, however, are Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth’s adjoining bedrooms. Both are sparsely furnished, with a writing desk, precious little in the way of clothes storage, and a twin bed each. Seriously. You’d have thought Liz would spring for a queen-size bed, at least. In fact, the only double bed onboard is in the “Honeymoon Suite,” where newlyweds Prince Charles and Diana spent 16 days sailing around the Med.

Unfortunately for Harry and Meghan, this yacht’s sailing days are over. But hey, there’s always Royal Caribbean.



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