UK

Magna Carta copy inspected by Queen

  • 23 February 2015
  • From the section UK
The Queen is shown a copy of the Magna Carta at Buckingham Palace by Dr Claire Breay Image copyright PA
Image caption The Queen was shown the copy of the Magna Carta at Buckingham Palace by Dr Claire Breay

The Queen has inspected a modern copy of the Magna Carta at a reception at Buckingham Palace to mark the document's 800th anniversary.

The original charter attempted to limit the powers of her medieval ancestor, King John.

The copy is written on sheepskin parchment, like the original, and belongs to the British Library.

Her Majesty is patron of the Magna Carta Trust, which is holding events to commemorate the anniversary.

Dr Claire Breay, the British Library's head of medieval manuscripts, said there were four remaining versions of the original manuscript still in existence.

This copy is made up of 3,500 words handwritten in minuscule medieval Latin.

Dr Breay, who showed it to the Queen, added: "There were 63 clauses in the original document and most of those have now been repealed, and of the version of Magna Carta which went on to the statute books only three clauses are still valid in English law on the statute book today.

"So I was showing the Queen the clause 'no free man should be seized or imprisoned or stripped of his rights, or outlawed or exiled except by the judgement of his equals or by the law of the land and no one shall have justice delayed or denied to him' because that is one of the clauses that is still on the statute book and is at the heart of its fame today."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The modern copy is written on sheepskin parchment, as is the original document

She also added that the Queen had been "intrigued" to see a seal of King John, which will be part of an exhibition on the Magna Carta starting at the British Library next month.

The seal, on loan from Eton College, is one of the earliest and best-preserved images of the Plantagenet Kings.

Among the legal and political dignitaries attending the reception was Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, Lord Neuberger, the president of the Supreme Court and Sir Robert Worcester, founder of polling firm MORI and deputy chairman of the Magna Carta Trust.

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