British passports to proudly feature 'His Majesty' after seven decades, reflecting the reign of King Charles III.
Source: Home Office & HM Passport Office
A significant change is on the horizon in the United Kingdom. British passports are set to reclaim a long-lost feature – the royal salutation 'His Majesty'. Absent since 1952, the moniker is making a comeback, and this time, it is in honour of King Charles III. This update, announced by the Home Secretary on the 18th of July, enriches the layered history of the British passport.
This evolution coincides with the dedicated efforts of HM Passport Office to provide exceptional service to British citizens, particularly during the peak travel season. In just the first half of 2023, over five million passports have been processed, more than 99% of which were issued within the standard UK service timeframe of 10 weeks. Impressively, over 90% were delivered within just three weeks.
This achievement marks a considerable improvement from 2022 when 95.4% of passports were issued within this timeframe. Credit is due to strategic measures implemented to overcome challenges faced in early 2022, including enhancements in processes, upgrades in digital systems, and the introduction of a new supplier for customer contact services.
Reflecting on this significant moment, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said, "For 70 years, Her Majesty has graced British passports. As we transition to the era of 'His Majesty', it’s important to recognise the tireless dedication of the HM Passport Office and their unwavering commitment to meeting the needs of the British public. As we celebrate this progress, I urge citizens to apply for their passports promptly."
British passports have a rich history, stretching back to 1414 during the reign of Henry V, when they were known as safe conducts. It wasn't until 1915 that the modern-style British passport, complete with a photograph and signature, came into existence. Security features, starting with a unique watermark, were introduced in 1972, and have evolved to include holograms, intricate print patterns, and a polycarbonate page, giving British nationals confidence in the document's uniqueness.
First introduced in 1988, the burgundy-coloured, machine-readable passports gave way to the iconic blue cover in 2020 following the UK's departure from the EU. Now, we are entering a new chapter with the return of 'His Majesty', a timely reminder of the rich, ever-evolving tapestry of our nation's history.