Princess Cruises lay claim to the “Love Boat” title – and just to prove it one more time, they are taking Captain Stubing (in the shape of actor Gavin MacLeod) back to sea on Pacific Princess’s world cruise next year.
But perhaps we have all been missing something. The real Love Boat is tied up at a quayside at Leith Docks, near Edinburgh and although it doesn’t sail anywhere these days, it welcomes hundreds of visitors each day.
This vessel has provided a honeymoon home for more princesses than you’ll find in Disney Dream’s Royal Palace restaurant.
I’m talking about the Royal Yacht Britannia, which tonight will be the venue for a sparkling cocktail party for 180 guests on the eve of Zara Phillips’ wedding to Mike Tindall.
Guests, expected to include younger members of the Royal Family and sporting friends of the couple, will be able to sneak a peek at the single beds used by The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, and the only double bed on the ship, which was installed for Charles and Diana’s honeymoon in 1981 – their wedding was exactly 30 years ago today.
Britannia was the setting for the honeymoon of Zara’s parents, Princess Anne and Capt Mark Phillips, in 1973 and in 1960 for her great-aunt and uncle Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong Jones. Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson spent five days on the ship after their wedding in 1985.
Princess Anne celebrated her 21st birthday on board and once described Britannia as “the nearest thing to heaven anyone will ever get,” and in the officers’ quarters there are numerous pictures of young royals having a good time.
But perhaps it’s just as well that Zara is spending time on Britannia before her wedding, to be held tomorrow at Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh – all the couples who honeymooned on the ship divorced.
When Britannia was decommissioned in 1997, the occasion prompted the only recorded instance of the Queen shedding a tear in public. No surprise that although she will be at the wedding, she is not expected to be at this evening’s party.