On Monday, December 12th the Representative Deputy Lieutenant for the London Borough of Barnet, Martin Russell and the RAF Museum Chair, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, formally unveiled the RAF Museum’s Royal Charter, which is now on public display in the museum’s newly refurbished entrance to Hangar 3 entrance at London. The Royal Charter was granted by Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who also officially opened the Museum in 1972.
Maggie Appleton, Chief Executive Officer, RAF Museum said: ‘It is a great honour to have been granted a Royal Charter by Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. All the Museum team – Trustees, staff and volunteers – are incredibly grateful for this recognition. We are inspired even further to fulfil our dual role as a National Museum and community resource and partner, collecting and sharing globally significant stories for and with everyone.’
What is a Royal Charter?
A Royal Charter is a formal grant issued by a monarch which confers an independent legal personality on an organisation and defines its objectives, constitution and powers to govern its own affairs. Incorporation by Charter is a prestigious way of acquiring legal personality and reflects the high status of that body. Only pre-eminent leaders in their field are granted this honour and Charter status provides an appropriate governance structure for the future and is an affirmation of the national importance of the Museum.
According to the Privy Council, there are now over one thousand Royal chartered bodies. The first ever organisation to receive a Royal Charter was the Weavers Company in 1155. This year, the RAF Museum became the 1,038th company to receive its charter. Other famous fellow chartered bodies include the BBC, the British Red Cross and the Honourable Company of Air Pilots.
How did the Museum receive the Royal Charter?
The Royal Charter was granted to the Museum in recognition of its objectives to educate and inform the public and members of the RAF about the history and traditions of the RAF; and the role of the RAF in relation to the armed forces of the realm, other air forces and aviation. Applications for a Royal Charter take the form of a formal Petition to The Sovereign in Council. The Museum’s own petition included signatures from five previous RAF Chiefs of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Johns (1997-2000); Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy (2006-2009); Air Chief Marshal Sir Andy Pulford (2013 – 2016); Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier (2016-2019) and Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston – Chief of the Air Staff incumbent. Original support was given by the Museum’s former Royal Patron, His Late Royal Highness Prince Philip.