British passports bearing the title of ‘His Majesty’ will start being issued this week in the name of King Charles III for the first time in 70 years.
“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,” Home Secretary Suella Braverman announced on Tuesday.
In the first six months of 2023, over five million passports were processed with more than 99 per cent issued within the standard UK service of 10 weeks, the vast majority well within this timeline, with over 90 per cent delivered within three weeks.
This marks a significant improvement in HM (His Majesty’s) Passport Office’s performance since 2022, during which time 95.4 per cent of passports were issued within this 10-week timeframe, a Home Office statement said.
According to the statement, the success 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.
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.
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.