If Queen Elizabeth II wants to take a quick dip when she is on her floating home away from home, she's out of luck.
"We haven't got a swimming pool. We occasionally rig up a rubber pool," Rear Adm. Paul W. Greening, skipper of Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia, told reporters today.
That may be the only hardship, however, awaiting Britain's monarch aboard the 30-year-old, 5,769-ton vessel. The furnishings are antiques straight out of The Victoria and Albert Museum, the paintings are originals and the silence is pristine. Commands are never shouted or broadcast, but instead whispered or written.
"If they have been properly briefed before hand," Greening said of his crew, "it's not very necessary for additional orders to be given vocally."
The 412-foot-long yacht is manned by 21 officers and 156 men, the latter known in the royal navy as "snotty yachties" because of their coveted duty.
On the high seas, the queen often invites a few of the officers to dine with her in her royal apartment.
"It's great fun," one officer said in what may have been the day's understatement.
Rumored to cost 3 million pounds a year to operate, the drawing room can accommodate 200 and the dining room 56. Californians have been vying for those limited places as the queen's invitations to her shipboard parties have gone out in recent weeks.