Freedom of the City of London granted to Naval Reservists

Twenty-one reservists from all three services became ‘Freemen of the City of London’ in an eight centuries old ceremony at the spectacular Mansion House in London on Thursday 1 February.

The sailors, soldiers and airmen were nominated to receive the honour by The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Charles Bowman, and the Pageantmaster of the Lord Mayor's Show, Dominic Reid. They were chosen in recognition of more than ten years of service as Marshals at the Lord Mayor’s Show.

Lieutenant Commander Elizabeth Church from HMS President was honoured at the ceremony. “It has been a privilege and such a nice way of recognising what we have done with the Lord Mayor’s Show,” she said.

Royal Marines Reservist Lieutenant Colonel Fraser Smith spoke of his pride at receiving the Freedom of the City, “It’s an honour to receive recognition of the years of service to the city and I am very pleased to have been asked.”

The Clerk of the Chamberlain's Court, Murray Craig, performed the ceremony, which included the ‘Declaration of a Freeman’ and the signing of the Freeman’s Declaration Book.

It has been a privilege and such a nice way of recognising what we have done with the Lord Mayor’s Show

Lieutenant Commander Elizabeth Church RNR, HMS President

The clerk individually presented the 21 Reservists with a hand written parchment copy of the Freedom, together with the 18th century book ‘Rules for the Conduct of Life’ written by Sir John Barnard. 

Murray Craig, the 37th clerk since 1294, describes the symbolic ceremony as a unique slice of history and one the City of London are keen to maintain. 

The first presentation of The Freedom of the City is believed to have been in 1237, to enable members of a Guild or Livery to carry out their trade or craft within the Square Mile. 

The Freedom included a number of privileges, such as being exempt from pressgang, but also formed the early stages of trading standards.

Lord Mayor Charles Bowman and Lady Mayoress Samantha Bowman attended the ceremony and during his heartfelt speech, the Lord Mayor said, “50 years ago, my father took me as a 7 year old to the Lord Mayors Show, where I saw history, pageantry, commitment, celebration and culture. 

“It was a catalyst for me which led to my career of 35 years in the City and enabled me the privilege to become the 690th Lord Mayor of London. It is a great privilege and honour to recognise an absolutely extraordinary contribution over so many years, it is remarkable. I am thrilled to have everyone here today.”

Dominic Reid OBE, the Pageantmaster of the Lord Mayor's Show was also present at the ceremony and remarked, “I was genuinely moved by today’s ceremony, as these are people that I have known and worked with for such a long time.

“I think it is fantastic that they are being recognised in this way and it is very good of the Lord Mayor to have made this happen. It is a great day for the City of London, the Reserve Services, the Lord Mayor’s Show and for the individuals themselves, who I believe they are all very proud of what they have received today.”

Once a Freeman you are invited to join the Guild of Freemen which brings together Freemen of the City for charitable, educational, social and benevolent activities to promote the interests of the City of London.