Magna Carta turns 800: Magna Carta 800th Anniversary

Published: June 15, 2015

Magna Carta turns 800: Magna Carta 800th Anniversary, Royalty returned to Runnymede 800 years after a group of rebellious barons forced a medieval king to put his seal on a historic document that established the foundations of parliamentary democracy, human rights and the supremacy of law.

Eight centuries after the sealing of Magna Carta by King John in a boggy meadow on the banks of the Thames in Surrey, the Queen joined thousands on Monday who had travelled from around the world to stand in that field to mark the anniversary with a ceremony heavy on symbolism, speeches and flags.

In a written message, the 89-year-old monarch, patron of the Magna Carta Trust, said: “Runnymede is an ancient and resonant meeting place and it is fitting that we should assemble again here where the Great Charter was sealed 800 years ago.

“The story of the British monarchy is intertwined with that of Runnymede and Magna Carta. The values of Magna Carta are not just important to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, but across the world. Its principle are significant and enduring.”

The site is now a National Trust park, but Runnymede was originally chosen as the agreed venue because the boggy ground prevented either the king or his barons from bringing their armies for battle.

This time, the sovereign arrived without military backup but to a new fanfare, specially composed by John Rutter and sung by Temple church choir, whose London base served in 1215 as the London HQ for the beleaguered king.

Her Majesty was invited to unveil a plaque by the master of the rolls, Lord Dyson, who has in the past described Magna Carta as “a curious hotch potch”.

Magna Carta – or the Great Charter, a Latin translation that famously eluded David Cameron during a 2012 appearance on David Letterman’s talkshow in the US – has formed a cornerstone of fundamental liberties over eight centuries.

Addressing the crowd, the prime minister, who has advocated Britain’s withdrawal from the European convention on human rights and replacing the Human Rights Act (HRA), said Magna Carta had altered “forever the balance of power between the governed and government”.


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