Princess Royal braves Swanage weather to visit National Coastwatch Institution

As patron of the National Coastwatch Institution (NCI), the Princess Royal flew into Swanage to meet the volunteers who keep a watch for those in trouble along our coast.

Amid wind and rain, the royal visitor first met the coastwatch team at St Albans Head near Worth Matravers and then travelled by helicopter to Swanage, landing in King George’s Playing Fields just off Victoria Avenue.

Helicopter leaving Swanage with Princess Royal
Jacquie Webb

The royal helicopter

Took many residents by surprise

The visit on Monday 21st June 2021 was not announced in advance, so the arrival of the royal in the dark red helicopter in the middle of the playing fields took many residents by surprise.

The Princess Royal was taken by car to Peveril Point where she visited the lookout tower of the Swanage NCI and then it was onto Durlston Castle for an afternoon reception in the Fine Foundation Gallery.

At the reception, the princess presented a number of Swanage and St Albans Head NCI watchkeepers with long service medals.

Princess Royal leaving Swanage in a helicopter
Josie Walker

The Princess Royal being driven from the reception at Durlston Castle back to the helicopter in King George’s Playing Fields

“The Princess Royal struck me as very well informed”

Swanage NCI station manager, Ian Weston said:

“It’s taken quite a lot of organisation for the visit to take place. There was plenty of enthusiasm from all my station members and most managed to have a chat with her. The Princess Royal struck me as very well informed and asked questions about the job and the equipment we use.

“We were formed in 1995 and since then the NCI has built a good reputation for the job we do, working with the coastguard and the RNLI lifeboat service – it’s often said that we are their eyes and ears.

“It was a great bonus when the Princess Royal agreed to become our patron a few years ago and her visit to St Albans Head and Swanage is recognition of all the good work that we do.”

Princess Royal leaving Swanage in a helicopter
Josie Walker

The royal helicopter in King George’s Playing Fields

“We are part of a much bigger family”

A guest at the reception was Swanage Coastguard Station Officer, Ian Brown who was awarded the British Empire Medal in the 2021 New Year Honours. He said:

“It was a great honour to be invited. It demonstrates the close collaboration between us – the Swanage Coastguard team and the NCI.

“When asked how many are in our team I say 12 but I have to add that we are part of a much bigger family that protects our coastline and the watch keepers are part of that.

“The Princess Royal was very aware of how busy we’ve been recently with the increased number of visitors to the coast and the effort that we all make to help keep people safe.”

Swanage battery at Peveril Point

The Swanage NCI lookout tower at Peveril Point

“We really appreciate all that the NCI do”

Also at the reception at Durlston Castle was the Mayor of Swanage, councillor Avril Harris. She said:

“I was pleased to be able to greet the Princess Royal and welcome her to Swanage. As a town we really appreciate all that the NCI do. It’s another of our great voluntary organisations!”

Princess Royal leaving Swanage in a helicopter
Josie Walker

The Princess Royal walking towards the helicopter

Striding back to the helicopter, brolly in hand

From Durlston Castle, the Princess Royal was driven back to her waiting helicopter in King George’s Playing Fields, where a few local residents had gathered and were lucky enough to spot her striding back to the helicopter, brolly in hand.

Helicopter leaving Swanage with Princess Royal
Jacquie Webb

The helicopter leaving Swanage with the Princess Royal on board

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