Brogan Solomon of the Junior Lawyers Division committee writes about the Magna Carta 800 anniversary commemorative event at Runnymede on 15 June 2015
On 15 June 2015 the JLD executive committee made their way to Runnymede, Windsor to celebrate 800 years of the sealing of the Magna Carta at a Royal reception.
We met in London in the early hours of the morning and, although slight bleary eyed, we were all very excited to be dressed in our finery and off to commemorate a document which established the rule of law in England.
After a fairly short minibus journey, we embarked on the scenic walk to the site where the festivities would be held. The grounds of Runnymede are beautiful and the opportunity to see the Queen’s silver jubilee boat, Glorianna, and the official Magna Carta sign really set the scene for what was to come.
The main celebrations started with musical and dramatic interpretations of the charter and were followed by a number of orchestral pieces from the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Representatives from primary schools in every county of the UK dedicated flags they had designed to mark the occasion.
Mid-morning saw the arrival of HRH the Duke of Cambridge to give a special dedication of an art installation called ‘The Jurors’ by Hew Locke. Hew created a set of 12 bronze chairs, laid out as if waiting for a meeting. The chairs depict scenes of key legal change across the world in the last 800 years and demonstrate the influence that the Magna Carta has had on so many of the world’s legal systems.
Shortly after, Her Majesty The Queen, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh and HRH The Princess Royal arrived along with David Cameron and the Archbishop of Canterbury. This was a particularly special moment for the committee as the current chair, Max Harris, and the immediate past chair, Sophia Dirir, were presented to certain members of the party as thanks for their hard work and contributions to the Magna Carta celebrations that are taking place throughout this year.
Perhaps the most poignant part of the day was the rededication of the American Bar Association memorial led by HRH The Princess Royal. Princess Anne spoke about the importance of the charter and its significance in showing that no man is above the law. Renditions of both the British and American national anthems from the memorial ended the rededication and allowed us to all take a moment to realise the significance of what had occurred on this hill in 1215.
With the main celebrations over it was time for a picnic lunch with the chance to look around the artwork, memorial and various stalls that we had not previously had a chance to see. Our committee also seemed to be in popular demand for radio interviews with a number of local radio stations. We were quizzed on all topics from what the Magna Carta meant to us right up to where we had purchased our outfits!
The day ended with a fly past from the ever impressive Red Arrows and a number of other planes. The display was a fitting end to a remarkable day.
The Magna Carta is the foundation that supports the freedoms enjoyed by the country today and has been an instrumental influence to the legal systems of countries around the world. In a time of great uncertainty as to our legal principles and human rights it was great to see so many people celebrating it.
If you would like more information on any of the other Magna Carta events that are taking place this year please visit www.magnacarta800th.com. And of course, please don’t forget to sign up for our Junior Lawyers in Schools programme.
Brogan Solomon is a member of the JLD executive committee.