HRH The Duchess of Edinburgh joins RNLI for retirement of HM The Queen lifeboat

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh joined Royal National Lifeboat Institution representatives at Windsor Castle for the handover of RNLB Her Majesty The Queen to The Historic Dockyard Chatham.

The Mersey class all-weather lifeboat was named on 16 July 1993 by Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Ramsgate Lifeboat Station. During the lifeboat’s 30 years of service, she launched 201 times, saved 33 lives, aided 175 people and spent 3,057 crew hours at sea, serving at a total of 13 lifeboat stations. Her last operational passage was from Port St Mary, Isle of Man to Fleetwood, Lancashire on Saturday 6 May 2023, the day of the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III.

In commemoration of Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years of unstinting service as Patron of the RNLI, the retired lifeboat was today stationed outside King George IV Gateway at Windsor Castle. Built in 1824, the same year the RNLI was founded, and King George IV became the charity’s first Patron, the gateway is the ceremonial entrance to the castle and leads into the Long Walk.

RNLI and Historic Dockyard Chatham representatives were joined by The Duchess of Edinburgh to sign the lifeboat’s logbook, marking the official retirement of RNLB Her Majesty The Queen from operational duty. The Duchess of Edinburgh met with RNLI Chair Janet Legrand, Chairman of The Historic Dockyard Chatham Admiral Sir Trevor Soar, RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie, former volunteer crew of RNLB Her Majesty The Queen from Lytham St Annes Lifeboat Station, and volunteers from the RNLI Historic Lifeboat Collection at Chatham.

HRH hands over logbook to Admiral Sir Trevor Soar.
Image: RNLI/Nathan Williams

The event was a recognition of volunteers – both those who looked after the lifeboat during her operational service and those who will care for her in her new home at The Historic Dockyard Chatham.

RNLI Fleet Staff Coxswain, Martin Jaggs, was coxswain of RNLB Her Majesty The Queen during the lifeboat’s 20-year service at Lytham St Annes. Martin was joined by four of his volunteer crew members during the official handover to Ian Smith, Historic Lifeboat Collection Manager at The Historic Dockyard Chatham.

Martin said: “It has been a great honour to have served on RNLB Her Majesty The Queen for more than 20 years along with all the fantastic volunteers at Lytham St Annes. I was lucky enough to be on her last sail on the Coronation Day of The King and Queen, which was a great experience and to also be at the official retirement at Windsor Castle has been truly amazing. RNLB Her Majesty The Queen served her crew and the RNLI well, keeping them all safe and saving many lives.”

RNLI Chief Executive, Mark Dowie, said: “Windsor Castle provides a spectacular backdrop for this special event, organised to recognise our outstanding volunteers but also to commemorate 70 years of service by our late Patron, Queen Elizabeth II. As we look to the Institution’s 200th anniversary next year, today’s event has been a poignant reminder of our Royal heritage and RNLB Her Majesty The Queen’s service to saving lives at sea. It is very fitting this lifeboat will continue to raise awareness of our lifesaving work as part of the RNLI’s Historic Lifeboat Collection in Chatham.”

Last year, HRH The Duke of Kent named Wells-next-the-Sea’s new Shannon class lifeboat, Duke of Edinburgh to commemorate HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh’s longstanding commitment to maritime services.

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