Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II: A tribute to the RNLI’s longest-serving patron

Lifeboats Statement

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has paid tribute to its patron Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who died today at the age of 96.

Her Majesty The Queen on her final RNLI engagement at St Ives Lifeboat Station on 17 May, 2013

RNLI/Nigel Millard

Her Majesty The Queen on her final RNLI engagement at St Ives Lifeboat Station on 17 May, 2013

RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie said: 'On behalf of everyone involved with the RNLI, we send our heartfelt condolences to The Royal Family on the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Her Majesty has dedicated 70 years as patron of the RNLI, engaging with and recognising the efforts of thousands of our people. We place on record our sincere thanks for Her Majesty’s unwavering commitment to saving lives at sea. Our thoughts are with The Royal Family and Her Majesty’s loyal subjects across the United Kingdom and The Commonwealth.'

Her Majesty had been patron of the lifesaving charity since ascending to the throne following the death of her father King George VI in 1952 and was a much-loved member of the RNLI family.

As the longest-reigning British monarch, Her Majesty The Queen was also the longest-serving RNLI patron, dedicating 70 years to saving lives at sea, during which time the charity’s lifeboat crews and lifeguards saved 65,979 lives.

Her Majesty’s extraordinary commitment to the lifesaving charity saw her attend many RNLI occasions and recognise the efforts of thousands of RNLI volunteers during her visits to lifeboat stations, through the national Honours awards, and the four Jubilee medals issued to RNLI crew in 1977, 2002, 2012, and 2022 to mark the Platinum Jubilee.

But her devotion to the RNLI started before she even became Queen when at 21 the then Princess Elizabeth donated £180, the equivalent of almost £7,000 today, to the charity.

On 27 June 1949 Princess Elizabeth conducted her first lifeboat station visit to St Helier, Jersey and on 17 July 1972, Her Majesty became the first reigning monarch to name a lifeboat, the Solent class The Royal British Legion Jubilee.

Two years later Her Majesty hosted a garden party at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the RNLI.

In total, Her Majesty named five lifeboats and on 16 July 1993 proudly named ‘her’ own, the Mersey class all-weather lifeboat Her Majesty The Queen, which served at Lytham St Annes for almost 20 years after originally being part of the RNLI relief fleet and serving briefly at Cromer.

On 24 July 2004, Her Majesty officially opened the RNLI’s new headquarters in Poole, Dorset accompanied by the late HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and our President, HRH The Duke of Kent.

Her final official engagement on behalf of the RNLI was on 17 May 2013, when she unveiled a plaque at St Ives Lifeboat Station in Cornwall and met the volunteer lifeboat crew and fundraisers.

Notes to editors

  • Picture caption: Her Majesty The Queen on her final RNLI engagement at St Ives Lifeboat Station on 17 May, 2013

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Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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