Poetry, music and fine cuisine were just a few of the standouts during an amazing evening celebrating Burns Night on the Royal Yacht Britannia.
Three of the best-known celebrations on the Scottish Calendar is Hogmanay, St. Andrew’s Day and Burns Night and it’s the latter of these we’re featuring in this article.
For those who know of the day but are not aware of its meaning. Burns Night celebrates the life of the poet Robert Burns and is held on the anniversary of his birth.
Robert or ‘Rabbie’ Burns is held in the highest of esteem in Scotland and for a very good reason. Aside from more than 500+ well-known poems and songs he wrote, his social commentary became an inspiration to the founders of socialism and liberalism.
After numerous articles over the years, suggesting where people should go on Burns Night. It was finally time for us to take a short trip to Scotland to experience this special day for ourselves.
Before we get into the details of our Robert Burns themed culinary adventure, I have a confession. Although I live only 90 minutes from the Scottish borders and 3 1/2 hours from Edinburgh, I’d never visited the great city, preferring to listen to wonderful anecdotes from others.
It wasn’t until my wife and I arrived in Edinburgh that it hit home exactly what we’d been missing. Edinburgh is beautiful, incredible architecture, vibrancy, and offers the same awe-inspiring feeling you get when you’re in the centre of London. Wherever I go, I’ll make the effort to interact. One of the major things I got from walking around the city centre and talking to people who live and work there was a sense of identity.
The people I came across were Scottish in the first instance and then British. It didn’t matter where they originally hailed from (and Edinburgh did appear to be very multi-cultural), they were passionate about being Scottish and it’s simply not the same in London. The passion of the Scottish people for their cultural heritage is the envy of so many countries around the world. Aside from the Republic of Ireland, I have never seen such a strong identity anywhere.
The Royal Yacht Britannia Experience
It doesn’t matter how hard you try, thinking of a better place to celebrate the great man than The Royal Yacht Britannia is virtually impossible. So, you can imagine the excitement when we received an invitation to join the fun.
Over the years, we’ve become a little blasé or perhaps a better word to use is spoilt. We’ve been to so many amazing places, countless incredible experiences that it’s difficult to get us excited, but, the Royal Yacht Britannia, now that’s ‘A different kettle of fish’.
Britannia, is, without doubt, one of the most famous boats in existence, and plays a major part in Britain’s extraordinary history.
Before we’d even set off for Edinburgh, some nerves were setting in. My wife spent the days prior, parading numerous flowing gowns, asking “is this okay”? While I frantically scoured the shops for a new dress shirt and spent hours trying to decide should I wear my tartan bow-tie and cummerbund and if I did, would some of the guests feel insulted? Eventually, universally accepted evening wear was chosen and we were green-lit for the journey North.
As we’d arrived well-ahead of the supper, we took the opportunity to preview the boat so we could get our bearings and fully enjoy what was to come in the evening. The people at the Royal Yacht Britannia were lovely and so passionate about the boat. As we walked around the various levels, try as I might to come up with a clever question, they had the answers. One thing which surprised me was just how ‘down to earth’ a good number of the rooms are, or perhaps a better word to use is normal. From what I understand, HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Philip wanted Britannia to be a home away from home which explained the cottage feel of the decor.
For us, and I am guessing many others, we would be expecting more glitz and glamour much like you see with the Saudi Royal Family, but once again, we were pleasantly surprised. That’s not to say that Britannia doesn’t have the wow factor, it does and is evident in the areas where dignitaries would congregate and if you want to see some glitz and sparkle, wait until you get to the engine room, it was so clean, we could have happily ate our burns supper in there!
Another thing which many of you will be surprised by is Britannia is looked after cared for by a charitable trust.
The Royal Yacht Britannia Trust is a self-funded, not-for-profit charitable organisation, created to preserve Britannia for future generations to enjoy. All of the proceeds from ticket sales, the Gift Shop and the Royal Deck Tea Room are re-invested in the work of the Trust, which does add a feel-good factor for visitors, knowing that what you’re paying out goes back into preserving an important part of British History.