June 15, 2015

Queen Marks Magna Carta Anniversary


QUEEN Elizabeth has led celebrations of the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta, a document that cemented a key step on Britain's path to its modern parliamentary democracy. 
THE Queen travelled to Runnymede, 30 kilometres west of London, where King John applied his royal seal to the document on June 15, 1215, guaranteeing a new relationship between the king and his subjects.

The Queen's husband, Prince Phillip, and her grandson, Prince William, also attended Monday's ceremony. Prime Minister David Cameron was scheduled to speak at the event, to which 4500 guests were invited. 
Prince William unveiled Hew Locke's art installation The Jurors, which features 12 bronze chairs symbolising the right to a fair trial under the Magna Carta. Many other events were held in Britain and other countries to mark the anniversary, including a series of parliament-sponsored "LiberTeas" tea parties and political debates across Britain on Sunday. 
In Canberra, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Magna Carta "remains a very important foundation stone of our democracy".
 "It remains a very important watershed for the whole world, because decency, civilisation, human rights utterly depend upon the rule of law," Mr Abbott said. The Latin document's most famous clause grants the right to justice and a fair trial to all "free men", although in 1215 most British people were peasants tied to landowners so they were not counted as "free men" under the law. 
Meaning "great charter," Magna Carta is credited with inspiring democratic reformers in Britain and other nations, including Thomas Jefferson in the United States and Mahatma Gandhi in India, and documents such as the US Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
With many thanks to The Australian                                                           


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