Queen meets Britannia commander as she marks 70 years of International Maritime Organisation

The Queen has visited the International Maritime Organisation headquarters in London today, to mark the 70th anniversary of the treaty under which the organisation was established.

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The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is situated on Albert Embankment, overlooking the Houses of Parliament on the opposite bank of the River Thames; it is the United Nations agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of pollution by ships and is the only United Nations agency to have its headquarters in London.

The Monarch’s last visit to the IMO was 35 years ago, when she officially opened the building.

Among the IMO staff and maritime officials from across the globe who met The Queen, was a face she was familiar with from the past; Paddy McKnight was commander of the Royal Yacht Britannia for two years.

Mr McKnight, a former naval officer in his 70s who was in charge of Britannia from 1983-1985, said: “I’d been on the yacht 11 days before The Queen opened this building.

“I did a series of trips, the first one was a state visit to Sweden, as commander you’re the CEO if something goes wrong you’re the guy that carries the can. And The Queen is very sharp, she’s very observant so things have got to be spot on.”

The Queen visited the International Maritime Organisation in London to mark the 70th anniversary of its formation, and met the former commander of Royal Yacht Britannia. Picture by ROTA / i-Images

The ex-naval officer, who was representing InterManager – the international trade association for the ship management industry – added, while laughing: “There were no mishaps of which I was aware – it was one of those jobs if nobody said a thing, you were doing fine.”


Royal Yacht Britannia was taken out of service in 1997 and is now a popular tourist attraction based in Leith Docks, Edinburgh. Interestingly, there have been suggestions of recommissioning the boat to help with Brexit negotiations or creating a new one.

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During Her Majesty’s visit, the organisation’s secretary-general, Kitack Lim, gave a speech highlighting the importance of freight carried by sea around the world. He said: “Today we are celebrating 70 years of achievement in which the truly vital industry of shipping has become safer, cleaner and greener, thanks to the work of the IMO. We are also looking ahead to new challenges on the horizon.

“Billions of ordinary people all over the world rely on shipping every day of their lives – even if they don’t realise it or understand it. It is our role to ensure shipping can continue to make this vital contribution to global wellbeing.”

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The Queen was then shown mementos of her previous visit, models of ships in the IMO’s foyer and the huge three-sided lens from a Suffolk lighthouse.


Before leaving, the Monarch and secretary-general both cut a birthday cake and Elizabeth – of course – unveiled a plaque to mark her visit.

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The Convention on the International Maritime Organisation was adopted on 6 March 1948 at the United Nations Maritime Conference held in Geneva, Switzerland.

The convention came into effect 10 years later, on 17 March 1958, when the 21st state ratified the treaty. IMO’s first meeting was held on 6 January 1959 at Church House in London.

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1 comment

yumikokokuryu Thu 08 March, 2018 - 3:33 am

I am very impressed to know that the british royal family have along time relationship with IMO although I was aware about a deep interest of the Queen elizabeth in the ship and the sea.


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