The first British passports bearing the title “His Majesty” and issued in the name of King Charles III will start being rolled out this week.
For more than 70 years, the official travel documents – revived with traditional dark blue covers post-Brexit – were supplied in the name of “Her Majesty” during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
It is the first time since 1952 – the end of the reign of the last male monarch, Charles’ grandfather King George VI – that they have been issued under the title “His Majesty”.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman described it as a “new era in history”, adding: “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.”
The King, however, does not own a passport or require one when he travels overseas.
He did as the Prince of Wales, but as sovereign he no longer needs one, because British passports are issued in the monarch’s name.
The first page contains a representation of the Royal Arms and will now read: “His Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State requests and requires in the name of His Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.”
The new passports will be introduced in a phased approach until all remaining stock featuring “Her Majesty” are exhausted.
It follows the approach of Royal Mail, whose stamps bearing the image of the late Queen will be used up over time – at the request of the King, who wanted to ensure there was no wastage.
British passports issued in the name of the late Queen remain valid travel documents.
Her Majesty’s Passport Office is now known as His Majesty’s Passport Office following the death of Elizabeth II – the nation’s longest reigning monarch – in September 2022.
The Home Office said, in the first six months of 2023, more than 99% of the five million passports processed were sent out within the standard UK service of 10 weeks, and the vast majority well within this timeline.
Ms Braverman still called on people to apply well in advance.
“While vast improvements have been made, I continue to urge the public to make sure they apply for passports in good time,” she said.
Last year, 95.4% of passports were issued within the 10-week timeframe.
A damning report by the Public Accounts Committee found hundreds of thousands of passport applicants were let down by “unacceptable delays” in 2022.
It said people were unable to travel for family emergencies, lost money spent on holidays or had difficulty proving their identity, and that the “confusion and frustration of customers” was exacerbated by weaknesses in how the Passport Office tracked processing times and the performance of its contractors.
Blue passports were brought back in 2020 – for the first time in almost three decades – to mark Britain’s departure from the European Union.
Championed by Brexiteers, the new-look documents returned to the original colour, replacing the burgundy passports which were introduced in 1988.