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Our Patron and President

About the RNLI's Patron and President, who support the charity to save lives at sea.

HRH The Prince of Wales visiting the Lifeboat Centre in Poole, including the College, All-Weather Lifeboat Centre, Sea Survival Centre and Memorial. Prince Charles.

Photo: RNLI/Nathan Williams

Our Patron: His Majesty The King

King Charles III continues the tradition of patronage for the charity by the reigning monarch which began when the RNLI was founded 200 years ago in 1824 with King George IV as its first Patron.

His Majesty The King has a long history with the RNLI and has made several visits to lifeboats stations and sites over the years. The most recent was a visit to St Ives RNLI Lifeboat Station in July 2023 accompanied by Queen Camilla as part of Their Majesties’ first official visit to Cornwall following the Coronation.

The King’s first ever RNLI engagement was on 7 July 1964 when, as the then Prince of Wales, His Majesty accompanied HRH 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 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 2021, His Majesty visited the RNLI College in Poole 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 and was able to inspect the progress of the Shannon class lifeboat Duke of Edinburgh being built in honour of The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The lifeboat is now on service at Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk and was named by HRH The Duke of Kent, President of the RNLI, in June 2023.

Our President: His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent KG

HRH The Duke of Kent visits Padstow Lifeboat StationThe Duke has been President of the RNLI since 1969 and succeeded both his parents as President of the charity. 

As President, The Duke regularly visits lifeboat stations and has attended many RNLI events, including the official opening of the RNLI College by Queen Elizabeth II in July 2004 and, more recently, the naming ceremony of RNLB Duke of Edinburgh at Wells-next-the-Sea in June 2023 and the RNLI 200th anniversary services of thanksgiving at Westminster and York Minster this year. Over the past 55 years, he has named 29 RNLI lifeboats including RNLB The Duke of Kent at the RNLI Support Centre in Poole in 2005.

2019 saw The Duke of Kent mark 50 years as President of the RNLI. RNLI Chairman Stuart Popham and Chief Executive Mark Dowie presented His Royal Highness with The Thanks of The Institution Inscribed on Vellum signed by Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of five decades of service and commitment. It is The Duke’s 55th anniversary as President this year which will be marked with a special visit to Scotland.