Historic ceremony sees leading institutions reaffirm their loyalty to King
The King has reflected on the “profound loss” of his mother as he embraced a 17th century tradition to mark his reign in which some of the nation’s leading institutions reaffirmed their loyalty to the monarch.
Charles received the “privileged bodies” – a group of 27 organisations and corporations – all of which presented loyal addresses to the sovereign in person in the Ballroom of Buckingham Palace in a ceremony on Thursday.
The privileged bodies are described by the palace as “culturally significant organisations and institutions that reflect the United Kingdom’s diverse society”.
Drawn from the education, science, arts and religious sectors, those invited included the General Synod of the Church of England, the universities of Oxford and Cambridge as well as of Edinburgh, London, St Andrews, Glasgow and Aberdeen, the Bank of England, City of London Corporation, the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Arts, the Military Knights of Windsor and the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.
The loyal addresses – in the form of a short speech – came from individuals including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey.
In a response at the end of the ceremony, Charles said: “Much has changed since the Privileged Bodies and Corporations of the United Kingdom last gathered over a decade ago to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee.
“It has been a time of political uncertainty and a terrible pandemic.
“Beyond our shores, war has returned to Europe. And globally, the challenge of climate change and biodiversity loss is more urgent than ever before.
“For my family, our nation and the Commonwealth, the death of my dear mother and our late Queen, was a profound loss.
“During her life, she remained a constant source of inspiration for us all, and I know what great support she drew from your loyalty and devotion.
“She took particular pleasure in her association with each of your organisations, valuing and admiring the contributions you made, individually and collectively, to the fabric of our nation during her long reign.”
During the speeches, the organisations and corporations passed on their condolences to the King following the death of his mother.
Charles said he read all of the addresses with “immense interest”, adding: “Whether in the fields of education, science, or the arts, or whether as representatives of the faith communities or of civic organisations, you advance our knowledge and our understanding of how we relate to each other and the world about us.
“You underpin the very foundations upon which our country is built and help to construct a framework of excellence and achievement within which our civil society functions and our national narrative can be formed.
“In doing so, you are admired around the world for your contributions to public life.
“You remind us of an essential truth – that a nation’s wealth and strength can be found, beyond the size of its economy or its place in the geopolitical landscape, in the values that it embodies – mutual respect, diversity, tolerance, fairness and friendship.
“These are values that have been at the core of British life throughout our history, and which, with your dedicated support, I trust will remain so for centuries to come.”
Expressing thanks, Charles concluded by saying: “And I can assure you that your strong support will sustain me in the future, as it sustained my late mother and father in the past.
“That is why, together with the Queen Consort, I wish to express my deepest gratitude for the generosity with which you have renewed your pledges of loyalty and affection today.”
According to the Royal Encyclopaedia, a certain number of bodies enjoy the prescriptive right of presenting addresses to the sovereign seated on the throne and “of receiving a reply from the sovereign’s lips”.
In centuries past, this function allowed the groups to publicly declare their loyalty to the crown and have the “ear” of the monarch, while also allowing the king or queen to hear grassroots opinions.
The long-held custom takes place to mark significant royal occasions and the event was in recognition of Charles’ accession to the throne.
The late Queen received the privileged bodies on five occasions during her reign, including for her accession in 1952.
The last time the ceremony took place was to celebrate Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, when Boris Johnson – then the London mayor – took the opportunity to present her with a commemorative Oyster travel card.