THE charity which is leading the restoration of a historic Dumbarton-built ship has announced that HRH the Princess Royal has become the organisation's royal patron.

The Friends of TS Queen Mary said the decision by HRH Princess Anne was a “huge honour”, and a major step forward in the story of the ship, which is being restored at Pacific Quay in Glasgow, next to the Glasgow Science Centre.

It also re-establishes the royal link to the ship, which was named after the Princess Royal’s great grandmother, Queen Mary.

Built at the world-famous yard of William Denny & Bros Ltd in Dumbarton in 1933, TS Queen Mary was successfully brought back to the Clyde from London in a marathon voyage along the coast of the United Kingdom in 2016.

In her heyday, TS Queen Mary carried 13,000 passengers each week and was widely regarded as one of Britain's finest pleasure steamers.

READ MORE: Dumbarton-built steamship to be berthed permanently on the Clyde

She sailed daily from Glasgow’s Broomielaw and earned her the affectionate nickname of “The Glasgow Boat”.

Once restored as a heritage destination, she will connect local people with the River Clyde and its great industrial heritage.

TS Queen Mary will offer a range of exciting curriculum-linked learning experiences to schools across the country.

Students from Strathclyde Business School have created an operating business plan, while more than 200 apprentices from City of Glasgow College – which has a nautical faculty - have come aboard to learn relevant skills and develop their experience. The ship also will be offered as a venue for functions.

The project is seen as enhancing the regeneration of the Govan community because of its Pacific Quay location.

Commenting on the Royal Patronage announcement, Iain Sim, Chairman of TS Friends of Queen Mary said: ‘We are delighted and deeply honoured that Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal has agreed to become our Royal Patron.

“This is a great boost for our ongoing work to restore this British icon to her former glory and to preserve her for future generations.”

Crawford Paterson, the charity's vice-chairman, said: “This decision re-establishes the Royal link to the ship, given that she was named in honour of Queen Mary, Her Royal Highness’ Great Grandmother and also that she has carried Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother along with Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret."

READ MORE: Video: a look on board historic TS Queen Mary

Glasgow’s Lord Provost Eva Bolander said: “I’m incredibly proud to support this multi-faceted project to refurbish and promote this iconic steamer as an exciting visitor attraction as well as an educational, interactive maritime experience.

“Its permanent berth at Glasgow Science Centre is the perfect location for what was once the world’s largest and most luxurious Clyde pleasure steamer.”

Dr Stephen Breslin, Glasgow Science Centre’s chief executive, said: “Glasgow Science Centre is proud to play its part in ensuring TS Queen Mary has a bright future on the Clyde and we are delighted to have this iconic ship sit prominently beside our building.”

The ship was retired from Clyde service by Caledonian MacBrayne in September 1977, and four years later she was towed to London to begin a new life as a floating reataurant at Waterloo Bridge on the Thames.

She closed for business in 2009 and was taken to Tilbury in Essex in preparation for a new role as a boutique hotel in La Rochelle.

But those plans fell through, and she was faced with the threat of the breaker's yard before the Friends of TS Queen Mary stepped in to buy the ship in 2015.

Since restoration work began, Friends of TS Queen Mary have raised almost £2 million, in cash and in-kind, from many donors – in Britain and overseas – who have given generously of their time and resources.

A number of celebrities also have pledged their support, including actor and author Robbie Coltraine OBE, who remains patron of the charity.