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RNLI 2008th March 2024

RNLB Her Majesty The Queen to take centre stage in exhibition celebrating 200 years of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution

A lifeboat named by, and after, Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II thirty years ago, is now on view to the public for the first time as part of The Historic Dockyard Chatham’s RNLI 200: The Exhibition (opening 23 March 2024).

Volunteers from the RNLI Historic Lifeboat Collection at The Historic Dockyard Chatham have been taking care of RNLB Her Majesty The Queen since a special royal handover back in December at Windsor Castle. 

HRH The Duchess of Edinburgh signed a commemorative logbook on Wednesday 13 December 2023 at Windsor Castle, and then handed the vessel over to the Chair of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, Admiral Sir Trevor Soar KCB OBE DL and the RNLI Historic Lifeboat volunteers ahead of the vessel’s final journey to the former Royal Dockyard at Chatham.

Over the last three decades, the lifeboat launched 201 times, saved 33 lives, aided 175 people and spent 3,057 crew hours at sea, serving at a total of 13 lifeboat stations.

Queen Elizabeth II was the first monarch in the RNLI’s history of royal patronage to name a lifeboat. The naming ceremony took place on 16 July 1993 at Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour.

Nick Ball, curator of the RNLI 200: Exhibition, which opens at The Historic Dockyard Chatham on Saturday 23 March said: “It’s particularly exciting to be able to share this lifeboat with the public. When the young Queen Elizabeth II took on royal responsibilities in 1952, she became patron of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, following King George VI and every reigning British monarch since King George IV.

“We know that visitors to the exhibition will be intrigued by the Mersey class all-weather vessel RNLB Her Majesty The Queen, and it’s entirely fitting that this special boat should be the first thing visitors see when they embark on their journey through this thrilling exhibition that tells the story of the RNLI’s 200 year history.

“It is also important to host the lifeboat here at The Historic Dockyard Chatham where Ian Smith and his team look after the RNLI Historic Lifeboat Collection.”

RNLI chief executive, Mark Dowie, said: “As we celebrate our 200th anniversary year, the stationing of RNLB Her Majesty The Queen at the forefront of the RNLI 200: The Exhibition in Chatham is a poignant reminder of our Royal heritage and RNLB Her Majesty The Queen’s service to saving lives at sea.”

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