New British passports to now be issued in the name of His Majesty King Charles for the first time
Passports bearing the title of ‘His Majesty’ and issued in the name of the King are being rolled out from this week.
Following in the footsteps of stamps and UK coins, British passports are the latest official item to be altered to carry either the face or name of the new monarch.
For 70 years, Queen Elizabeth II appeared on British passports but the Home Office has confirmed that a new-look passport issued by King Charles is now ready to replace it.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “For 70 years, Her Majesty has appeared on British passports and many of us will not remember a time when she did not feature. Today marks a significant moment in UK history, as the first British passports since 1952 start featuring the title of His Majesty, the King.”
Amid the start of the summer holidays the Home Office says it has already processed more than five million passports in the first six months of 2023 – with 99% of those issued within 10 weeks and over 90% arriving within three weeks.
This is ‘significant’ improvement says the government department, when compared to 2022 when the office was hit by a number of post-Covid delays as people rushed in their millions to renew documents. However despite vast improvements in turn around times, HM Passport Office is urging people to make sure they continue to apply for passports in good time.
The earliest recorded British passport can be traced back to the reign of Henry V in 1414 and documents were known as safe conducts.
It was not until 1915 that the first modern-style British passports, including a photograph and holder’s signature were first issued.
The first security feature, a special watermark, was introduced in passports in 1972. Since then additional security features have been incorporated from watermarks, holograms and elaborately printed patterns, to the polycarbonate page.
The first burgundy-coloured machine-readable passports were issued in 1988 and some 30 years later, in 2020, the blue cover was re-introduced following the UK’s departure from the EU.