King Charles has embraced a 17th-century tradition to mark his reign in which some of the nation’s leading institutions reaffirmed their loyalty to the monarch – while reflecting on the “profound loss” of his late mother.
The monarch received the “privileged bodies”, comprising 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.
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.”
He continued: “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.”
Royal tradition explained
Those invited were from the education, science, arts and religious sectors and 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.
According to the Royal Encyclopaedia, several 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”.
This function allowed the groups to publicly declare their loyalty to the crown in past centuries, as well as have the “ear” of the monarch, while also allowing the king or queen to hear grassroots opinions.
The tradition typically takes place to mark significant royal occasions and the event was in recognition of Charles’s accession to the throne.
Queen Elizabeth II received the privileged bodies on five occasions throughout her reign, including for her accession in 1952.
In the form of a short speech, the loyal addresses came from individuals such as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey.
The organisations and corporations offered their condolences to the King over the loss of his mother in their speeches.
King’s ‘immense interest’
The King said he had 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.”
Charles concluded by expressing thanks, 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.”