800 years ago on 15 June 1215 insurgent Baron Leaders trooped on London where they were greeted by a swelling crowd of defectors from King John’s royalist followers. The demands of this group would soon turn into the most pivotal document in English history: Magna Carta.
Thousands gathered at Runnymede, near Windsor on Monday for the commemoration of the celebrated text.
Her Majesty, the patron of the Magna Carta Trust, was joined by The Duke of Edinburgh, The Duke of Cambridge, The Princess Royal and her husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence. Various parliamentarians attended was as Prime Minister David Cameron.
King John realising peace would be the better option met them at Runnymede on 15th June 1215 to agree to their demands and seal Magna Carta. It was a significant document that fixed parameters on the powers of the King. It laid out the feudal responsibilities of the barons, confirmed the rights of the Church, and granted privileges to all freemen of the realm and their heirs forever. It was the first written constitution.
On 19 June, the rebel barons vowed their loyalty to the King once again. Things would change come early autumn of 1215 when the factions would indeed come to blows. But when the King set his seal on the extensive and comprehensive document on 15 June he launched the constitutional and legal authority that could not be rescinded on a monarch’s fancy.
Only three of the original 63 clauses in Magna Carta exist as law. The first protects the freedom and rights of the English church. The second reinforces the rights and customs of London and other towns, and the third cannot be merely paraphrased into a few words as it changed the course law throughout the world.
Magna Carta was the first grant by an English king to establish detailed parameters on royal authority. It may also be said that it played a pivotal role in the foundation for the United States Constitution.
The Queen unveiled a plaque to honour 800 years of Magna Carta.
Prince William had his turn at unveiling a plaque as well. William took part in the dedication of artist Hew Locke’s “The Jurors” installation commissioned to mark the 800th anniversary on Monday.
As the sounds of Aaron Copland’s Fanfare to the Common Man began, Princess Anne rededicated the American Bar Association’s Magna Carta Memorial.
Later the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and Red Arrows conducted a fly-past have over Runnymede Meadows to mark Monday’s historic anniversary.
On Saturday, a replica of the document made its way down the River Thames on board the Royal Barge Gloriana leading a flotilla of 200 boats.
A statue of The Queen was revealed at the site on Sunday. The four-metre high bronze statue displayed The Queen in full garter robes and inspired by portraits of her from 1954 and 1969.
photo credit: Crown Copyright 2015, Sergeant Rupert Frere RLC