Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II: ‘a beacon for the RNLI to follow’
Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) Chief Executive Mark Dowie has paid tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years of unstinting service to the lifesaving charity.
Her Majesty was the longest-serving patron in the near 200-year history of the RNLI, attending many official occasions and recognising the efforts of thousands of volunteers during her visits to lifeboat stations, through the national Honours awards, and the medals issued to operational personnel in 1977, 2002, 2012, and 2022 to mark the four Jubilees.
Mark said: ‘The RNLI has lost a Patron but of course the country has lost a Monarch and the Royal Family has lost a mother, a grandmother and a great grandmother. I am certain that our volunteers and staff and anyone who supports the RNLI would like to send our heartfelt condolences and very best wishes to His Majesty King Charles III and all the members of The Royal Family as they grieve.
'For the RNLI, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s service was a beacon for us to follow and I personally have found that particular link incredibly powerful as I have thought about Her Majesty’s impact on the charity.
‘The mood across the RNLI started with great sadness about the loss of our Patron. It has now gone on to respect and great gratitude for the 70 years of unstinting service Her Majesty gave us as our Patron.
‘The RNLI has very strong values; selflessness, trustworthiness, dependability and courage and these are the very values that Her Majesty personified for all of the people of the UK and well beyond, right around the world.’
Her Majesty was 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.
During Her Majesty’s reign the lifesaving charity’s volunteer lifeboat crews and beach lifeguards saved 65,979 lives with RNLI lifeboats launching 329,854 times.
Her Majesty’s 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 and on 25 July 2012, Her Majesty opened Cowes’ new lifeboat station on the Isle of Wight.
Her Majesty’s 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.
‘Her Majesty gave 70 years of service as the RNLI’s Patron and throughout that time showed support in a number of different ways,’ added Mark.
‘Her Majesty saw a huge amount of change and modernisation of the RNLI during that time to the amazing lifesaving service being delivered 24/7 right around the coast of the UK and Ireland.
‘We know that the RNLI meant a lot to Her Majesty and she certainly meant a lot to us.’
During this time of national mourning, the RNLI’s 238 lifeboat stations around the UK and Ireland remain fully operational and ready to save lives at sea 24/7, 365 days a year.
Notes to editors
- Footage of Mark Dowie’s interview is available here
- B-roll footage and images of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II are available to download here with a social media version here
- Hi-res images of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II during official RNLI engagements is available to download here
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For more information please contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or email: [email protected]
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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