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King follows his mother in becoming patron of RNLI

The Prince of Wales visited the Lifeboat Centre in Poole in 2021 (Nathan Williams/RNLI/PA)
The Prince of Wales visited the Lifeboat Centre in Poole in 2021 (Nathan Williams/RNLI/PA)

The King has become patron of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), following in the footsteps of his mother Queen Elizabeth II.

Reigning monarchs have traditionally served as the figurehead for the lifesaving charity since it was founded in 1824, with George IV its first patron.

The announcement, which coincides with its 200th anniversary, comes after a major review of more than 1,000 royal patronages conducted by the Royal Household following the late Queen’s death.

Royal visit to Cornwall
The King and Queen visited St Ives Harbour in Cornwall last summer (Finnbarr Webster/PA)

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.”

Charles has a long association with the RNLI, with the organisation revealing his first official engagement with the charity was in 1964 when he was 15 years old.

A teenage Prince of Wales accompanied his father Philip, the late Duke of Edinburgh, and sister Anne to watch the sea trials of a new Waveney class lifeboat at Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

His most recent visit was in July last year when he and Camilla travelled to St Ives RNLI Lifeboat Station in Cornwall.

Charles also visited Atlantic College in 1971, one of the first inshore lifeboat stations established by the RNLI and an educational college for young people.

He 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.

The prince was pictured in the RNLI archives in 1977 with windswept hair when he joined the volunteer crew on board their Rother class lifeboat, leaving from St Mary’s Lifeboat Station on the Isles of Scilly.

The Prince of Wales on board a Rother class lifeboat in 1977
The Prince of Wales on board a Rother class lifeboat in 1977 (RNLI/Richard Lethbridge/PA)

Next week, more than 2,500 of the charity’s long-serving volunteers, staff and their families will gather at Buckingham Palace after the King gave permission for the RNLI’s 200th anniversary garden party to be held at the royal residence.

An Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat will be on show as guests are joined by the Princess Royal, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence and the Duke of Kent, who is president of the RNLI.

The RNLI’s crews and lifeguards have saved more than 146,000 lives since its formation and its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the coasts of the UK and Ireland.

It operates 238 lifeboat stations and around 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and the Channel Islands.