Queen Elizabeth II: Marine world pays tribute to Britain’s longest-reigning monarch

Queen Elizabeth II yacht picture courtesy Princess Yachts

Figures from across the marine world are paying tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II today, after her death on Thursday (8 September), at the age of 96.

Elizabeth II was Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, and reigned for over 70 years, overseeing a period of great social and political change in the country. The country has entered a 10-day period of national mourning, during which Queen Elizabeth II will lie in state in Edinburgh and Westminster.

The Royal Yachting Association issued a statement expressing its thoughts and condolences and reflecting on the Royal Family’s long history of seafaring.

“Like so many around the world, we are deeply saddened at the loss of Her Majesty The Queen,” says Chris Preston, chair of the Royal Yachting Association. “Her patronages and charities have covered a wide range of issues, from opportunities for young people, to the preservation of wildlife and the environment. It was an honour for the RYA to host Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh on a trip to Cowes in 2012, where they were introduced to a number of young OnBoard sailors who were enjoying the opportunity to try sailing and windsurfing.

Stirring Christmas Pudding in the Royal Galley, image courtesy of Royal Yacht Britannia
Stirring Christmas Pudding in the Royal Galley, image courtesy of Royal Yacht Britannia

“Having Her Majesty as Royal Patron, alongside the support of her husband HRH The Duke of Edinburgh as former RYA President and her daughter The Princess Royal as our current President, has undoubtedly helped us to raise awareness of our aims to increase participation in boating, to promote safety afloat and to raise sailing standards.  Her Majesty will be sorely missed and we offer our deepest condolences to our President, The Princess Royal, and her family.” 

In 1948, Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh were listed as new members of the RYA (known then as the Yacht Racing Association). It became the Royal Yachting Association in 1952.

Over the centuries, the Monarchy has sailed aboard 83 royal yachts, including the most recent, HMY Britannia, which often hosted the RYA Council meetings during Cowes Week.

The Queen described the yacht as the place “where I can truly relax” (according to the Mirror), and she was often pictured on it with members of her family during her holidays.

The Queen officially took her leave of it in 1997, and the vessel was placed in the port of Leith in Scotland, where it serves as a floating museum and events venue. All of the clocks on board remain stopped at 3:01, the exact time that Her Majesty disembarked for the last time.

In 1948, Bluebottle was presented to Her Majesty The Queen (then HRH Princess Elizabeth) and HRH Prince Philip as a wedding present from the Island Sailing Club of Cowes, Isle of Wight. Bluebottle is the only British Dragon to have won an Olympic medal, picking up a bronze at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.

Her Majesty The Queen has been the Patron of the RNLI for 60 years and with her support the charity has gone from strength to strength. She recently visited the boathouse in St Ives and was greeted by hundred of locals who lined the seafront in glorious sunshine. Shot for Nigel Millard's book the Lifeboat: Courage on our Coasts page 181.
Her Majesty The Queen on her final RNLI engagement at St Ives Lifeboat Station on 17 May, 2013. Image courtesy of RNLI

Meanwhile, the RNLI has been paying tribute to its longest-serving patron. RNLI chief executive Mark Dowie says: “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.

“Her Majesty’s extraordinary commitment to the lifesaving charity saw her attend many RNLI occasions and recognise the efforts of thousands of RNLI volunteers during her visits to lifeboat stations, through the national Honours awards, and the four Jubilee medals issued to RNLI crew in 1977, 2002, 2012, and 2022 to mark the Platinum Jubilee.”

Dowie recalls how, age 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 in 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 was part of the RNLI’s relief fleet.” says Dowie.

The Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB) has paid tribute to the passing of Her Royal Majesty. MNWB chief executive Stuart Rivers said: “Thank you for your unwavering dedication to a life of service to our great nation. Today, will be marked with sadness, but we will also celebrate the exemplary service given by Her Majesty. You are in all of our thoughts and prayers.”

Sailing charity Jubilee Sailing Trust sends its condolences to the Royal Family. “Queen Elizabeth II will always have a special place in our hearts as it was money from the Silver Jubilee Fund in 1978 — marking Her Majesty’s 25 years as Monarch — which enabled our founder, Christopher Rudd, to start the charity,” the JST says in a statement. “44 years later, our mission remains the same: give people of mixed abilities and circumstances the freedom to explore their ability, potential and place in the world through inclusive adventures at sea.”

As a mark of respect to Queen Elizabeth II, Tenacious’ ensign is worn at half-mast for our arrival in Great Yarmouth today.
As a mark of respect to Queen Elizabeth II, Tenacious’ ensign is worn at half-mast for its arrival in Great Yarmouth today. Image courtesy of Jubilee Sailing Trust

Also joining the tributes this morning is International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General Kitack Lim, who expressed his heartfelt condolences.

“It is with great sorrow and sadness that we have learned of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” says Lim. “The entire Membership of the International Maritime Organization and the staff share the grief with deep sympathy at this difficult time. “I had the immense honour and privilege to meet Her Majesty here at IMO. Her genuine interest in shipping and maritime matters was remarkable.”

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at IMO Headquarters in 2018
Queen Elizabeth II at IMO Headquarters in 2018. Image courtesy of IMO

In a carefully worded statement, the Caribbean Tourism Authority paid tribute to the Queen’s legacy.

“It was during her reign that many Caribbean countries were granted self-government and independence, and that will, understandably, be a significant part of her legacy for many in the region who choose to remember her with fondness,” the statement reads.

“While some harboured mixed (or negative) views on the role of the British monarchy in the colonisation of the Caribbean region, others saw Queen Elizabeth as ‘godmother’ of many Caribbean institutions.”

Meanwhile, the Queen’s Harbour Master Portsmouth has confirmed that a 96-gun salute will take place today (9 September) at 1pm. The salute will be fired from the Saluting Station on the southern point of South Railway Jetty, and blank rounds will be fired at one-minute intervals, with the final round at approximately 2.35pm

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