Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex was on the Island of Jersey this past week to celebrate the 350th Anniversary for the Royal Mace. Prince Edward stopped for visits at the St. James Awards Centre to present four recipients with the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Awards. He also met with representatives of the On-2-Wheels Project as well as member of the Prince’s Trust.
Before his walkabout through the square, the Prince planted a tree and then was shown the Mace and Proclamation of King Charles II.
The royal Mace is a symbol linking Jersey with the Crown. It is comprised of 11 pieces of silver gilt and weighs 6.7 kg. It is approximately 1.25 meters long and is inscripted with the symbols of the British nations. It is noted though; it does not bear any hallmarks. The foot of the Mace contains a Latin inscription explaining the reason for the Mace being bestowed to the Island of Jersey.
The Mace is passed before a Bailiff during Royal Court Sittings as well as meetings of The Assembly of States. In the States and Court, the Mace is placed upright. “If the Sovereign turns up in person then the Mace has to be placed on its side. That happens in Westminster. When the Monarch comes to Jersey that doesn’t happen. The Mace stays upright,” Bailiff of Jersey, Sir Michael Birt told the BBC.
It was during the English Civil War (1642-1651) and after numerous defeats that King Charles I suggested his son flee to France to be with Queen Henrietta Maria. In 1647, King Charles I was apprehended, escaped but was seized again in 1648. Charles I was beheaded in 1649 at Whitechapel. Parliament did not proclaim Charles II as King after his father’s execution; in fact a statute was passed deeming it unlawful for Charles II to ascend, hence beginning the era known as the English Interregnum where Oliver Cromwell ruled as Lord Protector.
It was at the Elizabeth Castle on the Island of Jersey where Charles spent time before being able to reunite with his mother in France. It was also in Jersey that Bailiff, Sir George Carteret pronounced him King Charles II. Sir George would end up as the recipient of a parcel of land in North America; hence the state of New Jersey was named.
On 17 February 1649, Jersey issued a proclamation declaring Charles II King. Then in 1659, the Protectorate under Richard Cromwell (Oliver’s son) fell apart. Charles was asked to return and claim the throne that was rightfully his. This was the beginning of the Restoration period. Charles was finally crowned King Charles II on 23 April 1661.
Not forgetting Jersey’s generosity and loyalty to the Crown, Charles II presented the Royal Mace to the Island on 28 November 1663. The Mace has been part of Jersey’s heritage and parliamentary procedures now for 350 years.