RNLI announces King as new Patron

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is proud to announce that His Majesty King Charles III is to become the new Patron of the lifesaving charity.

King Charles III succeeds Queen Elizabeth II and continues the tradition of patronage for the charity by the reigning monarch, which began when the RNLI was founded in 1824 with King George IV as its first Patron.

RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie said: ‘All volunteers, supporters and staff will be extremely proud that The King has honoured the RNLI with His Majesty’s patronage. This is particularly so in the 200th anniversary year of the institution as we reflect on all that has gone before in the reigns of His Majesty’s forebears, together with the RNLI’s bright future as we head into our third century of lifesaving.’

The King has a long history with the RNLI and has made several visits to lifeboat stations and sites over the years. The most recent was a visit to St Ives RNLI Lifeboat Station in July last year accompanied by Queen Camilla as part of Their Majesties’ first official visit to Cornwall following the Coronation.

A month earlier, Mark Dowie presented His Majesty with five trees at The Duchy of Cornwall’s Poundbury development near Dorchester, in Dorset. The trees were part of the RNLI’s gold-medal winning garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2022 and were donated as part of The Queen’s Green Canopy – a living legacy of more than three million trees planted across the UK in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee.

His Majesty’s first ever RNLI engagement was on 7 July 1964 when, as the then Prince of Wales, His Royal Highness accompanied The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and HRH The Princess Royal to Cowes on the Isle of Wight to observe the sea trials of a new Waveney class lifeboat.

Photos from the RNLI’s archives feature a visit to Atlantic College in 1971, one of the first inshore lifeboat stations established by the RNLI and an educational college for young people. During the visit, His Majesty took the helm of a B-3 inflatable lifeboat and with two crew members, made a 35-minute trip into the Bristol Channel in rough weather. His Majesty went afloat again in 1977 during a visit to St Mary’s Lifeboat Station on the Isles of Scilly, joining the volunteer crew on board their Rother class lifeboat.

During the 1980s, His Majesty officially named the Arun class lifeboat Snolda in Aith, Scotland, and the Rother class lifeboat The Princess of Wales in Barmouth.

In 2004, His Majesty met with four RNLI volunteers ahead of the RNLI’s Annual Presentation of Awards. The next day, the awardees, including one volunteer from Filey Lifeboat Station and three from St Mary’s, were presented with RNLI Bronze Medals for Gallantry.

In 2021, His Majesty visited the RNLI College in Poole, Dorset where the RNLI’s extraordinary lifesavers from around the UK and Ireland are trained.

His Majesty was given a tour of the All-weather Lifeboat Centre, where the RNLI’s all-weather lifeboats are manufactured, and was able to inspect the progress of the Shannon class lifeboat Duke of Edinburgh being built in honour of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

In a nod to Prince Philip’s naval career, His Majesty attached a magpie engraved waterline plate to the transom of the lifeboat to honour Prince Philip’s very first sea-going command in the Royal Navy aboard HMS Magpie in 1950. The lifeboat – complete with commemorative plate – is now on service saving lives at Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk and was named by HRH The Duke of Kent, President of the RNLI, in June 2023.

The appointment of His Majesty King Charles III as Patron has been approved by the RNLI Trustee Board, in line with the charity’s constitution and byelaws.

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