For the first time in 70 years, British passports bearing the title of ‘His Majesty’ will start being issued in the name of His Majesty King Charles III, the Home Secretary announced 18th July 2023.
The update to the salutation comes as His Majesty’s Passport Office (HM Passport Office) continues to deliver exceptional service to British citizens as the busy summer period approaches.
In the first 6 months of 2023, over 5 million passports have been processed with more than 99% issued within the standard UK service of 10 weeks, the vast majority well within this timeline, with over 90% delivered within 3 weeks. This marks a significant improvement in HM Passport Office’s performance since 2022, during which time 95.4% of passports were issued within this 10-week timeframe.
This can be attributed to a series of strategic measures implemented to overcome the challenges faced in early 2022, including process improvements, significant advancements in digital systems, enhanced access to flexible resources, and the introduction of a second supplier of customer contact services. These initiatives have collectively contributed to HM Passport Office’s ability to consistently meet high performance standards and deliver exemplary customer service.
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.
As HM Passport Office enters a new era in its history, it is delivering an exceptional service and I am extremely grateful for their outstanding accomplishments and the unwavering dedication of the whole team to meet the needs of the British public. While vast improvements have been made, I continue to urge the public to make sure they 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 signature were first issued.
The first security feature, a special watermark, was introduced in passports in 1972. Since then, a large number of security features have been incorporated into British passports, from watermarks, holograms, elaborately printed patterns, to the polycarbonate page; meaning British nationals can have confidence that there is only one issue of their unique document.
The first burgundy-coloured machine-readable passports were issued in 1988 and over 30 years later, in 2020, the distinctive blue cover was re-introduced following the departure of the UK from the EU.