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King follows his mother in becoming patron of the RNLI

The King became the 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 life-saving charity since it was founded in 1824, with George IV its first patron.

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

Royal visit to CornwallRoyal visit to Cornwall

The King and Queen visited St Ives Harbor 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 honored the RNLI with His Majesty’s patronage.

“This is particularly so in the institution’s 200th year, when we reflect on all that has gone before in the reigns of Her Majesty’s forebears, along with the bright future of the RNLI as we move towards our third century of lifesaving of life.”

Charles has a long association with the RNLI, with the organization revealing that 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 last July when he and Camilla traveled to St Ives RNLI Lifeboat Station in Cornwall.

Charles also visited Atlantic College in 1971, one of the first coastal 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 voyage into the Bristol Channel in rough weather.

The Prince was pictured in the RNLI archives in 1977 with his hair blowing in the wind as he joined the volunteer crew aboard their Rother-class lifeboat, departing 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

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

More than 2,500 of the charity’s long-term volunteers, staff and families will gather at Buckingham Palace next week after the King gave permission for the RNLI’s 200th anniversary celebrations to take place at the royal residence.

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

RNLI crews and lifeguards have saved more than 146,000 lives since its formation and its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service on the coast of Great Britain and Ireland.

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