Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Information for volunteers and staff following the death of our Patron, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. 

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

Photo: RNLI/Nigel Millard

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

The RNLI has paid tribute to our Patron Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

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. 

I will be writing to The Royal Family to record our condolences and good wishes on all our behalf. 

Please find more information below about the RNLI’s protocol during the period of national mourning in the UK. 

Sharing condolences and memories 

Many of you will have special, personal memories of your engagements with Her Majesty The Queen. 

A formal Book of Remembrance will be available for volunteers and staff to use if they so wish. This will be available at the RNLI College Reception in Poole from Monday 12 September. 

You can send messages directly to The Royal Household. Civic Offices are also likely to open Books of Condolence where RNLI volunteers and staff can express their feelings.

Please also share photos and special memories with fellow volunteers and staff in our Volunteer Facebook Group

Allowing people time for reflection 

People can be deeply affected by the passing of a public figure. These reactions are unpredictable, and it will be important for everyone in the RNLI to be as understanding and as sympathetic as possible, allowing individuals time and space to come to terms with what has happened. You can find out more about the support available to RNLI volunteers and staff on the Volunteer Zone

Official protocol for lifeboat stations and RNLI sites 

Please find a summary of the RNLI protocol below. If you manage volunteers, please ensure your teams are aware of the RNLI protocol.

As updated guidance becomes available over the coming days, this page will be updated and you will be notified of changes via your usual RNLI communications or your RNLI manager:

Flags at half-staff

Where possible and appropriate, I would like flags at RNLI lifeboat stations, lifeguarded beaches, and other sites to be lowered to half-staff from Thursday 8 September. Flags to remain at half-staff until 08:00 on the day after the funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Further information is available at gov.uk

A poster is also available for stations to display with the flag protocol which you can download:

As a reminder on some points of etiquette, the flag flown should be clean and in a state of good repair. When flags are flown at half-staff they should first be raised to the top of the flagstaff, and then lowered to a point two-thirds of the way up, with at least the height of the flag left between the top of the flag and the top of the flagpole. When lowering a flag, it should first be raised to the top and then lowered to the ground.

Observing the funeral

On Monday 19 September Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s State Funeral will be taking place in London. The UK Government has announced the day as a Bank Holiday, to allow individuals, businesses, and other organisations to pay their respects and commemorate Her Majesty’s reign. It will also mark the final day of the period of national mourning. 

As an organisation, we will be honouring our Patron of 70 years. In Ireland, there is no national Bank Holiday. However, we are one crew with one Patron, meaning that the majority of RNLI sites across the UK and Ireland will be closed to the public on Monday 19 September. 

Our lifeboat stations around the UK and Ireland remain fully operational 24/7 to save lives at sea, but will be closed for visitors on the day of the funeral. On call volunteers should speak to their RNLI manager about local arrangements. 

The Watchkeeper and Duty Team will be available as usual. The RNLI College in Poole will also remain open, but the shop will be closed.  

The following RNLI sites will be closed: 

  • RNLI shops, museums, and visitor centres
  • The All-weather Lifeboat Centre (Poole, Dorset)
  • The Inshore Lifeboat Centre (Cowes, Ilse of Wight).

Please check with your Regional Support Team if you need any information about regional offices or lifeguard support centres. 

Please note: Our Supporter Experience and Volunteer Experience Teams will also be closed for the day, and a recorded message will be available to advise any callers. They will reopen at 8am on Tuesday 20 September.

RNLI people may well be invited to be part of the formal funeral arrangements (for example in a marching party). Separate advice will be available in that eventuality at the time.


From 5pm on Wednesday 14 September to 6.30am on Monday 19 September members of the public will be able to view Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Coffin during the Lying-in-State period. If you would like any more information on this, please visit the UK Government’s website.

Dress code

If representing the RNLI at any public occasions or events arranged locally because of the death of Her Majesty The Queen, it is appropriate to wear black as a mark of respect. RNLI uniforms should be worn where appropriate.

RNLI shops and museums

All RNLI shops and museums should be closed from Friday 9 September to Sunday 11 September inclusive, and on the day of the funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. At all other times, it is up to the discretion of each shop or museum if they would like to open. Please take into consideration the personal feelings of fellow volunteers being asked to give their time during this period.

Posters are also available for stations to display which you can download in English or Welsh

Events and meetings

Everyone should review diary commitments between Friday 9 September and the day of the funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II inclusive. Events, naming ceremonies, lunches, dinners, and receptions etc. where there is social activity should be postponed or cancelled during this time.

Any planned safety and educational activities that directly support our lifesaving work can continue. If venues, schools, or anyone involved doesn't feel it’s appropriate these can be rescheduled.  

Work meetings can continue as planned. No obvious social activity should take place around meetings at RNLI sites. No RNLI branded clothing should be worn for any social activity and please ensure we all demonstrate sombre and respectful behaviour during the period of national mourning.

Note: external, non-RNLI related events will continue to take place at the College in Poole (weddings, birthday parties etc.)

Fundraising and face-to-face engagement

The RNLI has temporarily paused normal fundraising activity as a mark of respect. This includes fundraising by our Face-to-Face Team; however, the Face-to-Face Team will still have a presence on beaches to offer water safety advice to visitors. This stance will be reviewed next week and any change communicated accordingly.

For those who wish to continue to support the RNLI at this time, donations can be made via our website and through our Supporter Experience Team on 0300 300 9990 (from the UK) and 01 511 9836 (from Ireland).

Training and exercising

Training and exercises should continue as planned.

Public announcements and media activity

A statement has been issued by the RNLI on the death of our Patron and is available on the News and Media Centre. These words have been echoed across the RNLI’s digital channels (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram). All regional and local RNLI communication platforms will use the narrative used on the official RNLI channels.

Some media interviews which allow our volunteers and staff to pay their respects and share memories of our Patron can go ahead. If approached by the media, please speak to your Regional Media Team or the Press Office to discuss an appropriate response before proceeding. Any interviews should be focused on personal memories of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – when Her Majesty visited an RNLI site or you met Her Majesty at an event, for instance. This is an opportunity to show our respect, appreciation and admiration for our Patron, as well as explaining steps being taken within the RNLI to mark The Queen’s death, such as lowering flags and postponing events. 

Lines will be shared with those of you who have had to cancel events which you can issue to the media and supporters, along with information to help those carrying out interviews.

News releases and social media posts about rescue activity or with a strong water safety message can continue. Other PR – human interest crew stories, fundraising stories, future events etc. – should be paused. We will let you know when this can recommence. Even after the funeral, it will be important to judge the public mood before recommencing public relations exercises.

As always, your Regional Media Team and the Press Office are available with guidance and support for anyone taking part in interviews or working on media releases and social content. 

Internal communications

The Communications Team will consider the need for all proposed internal communications. All other routine communications will be put on hold until after the funeral.

Thank you for your consideration and attention to the above protocol. 

With best wishes, 

Mark Dowie
RNLI Chief Executive.