Her Majesty The Queen and Runnymede
On 19 September 2022, visitors from all over the country lined the meadows of Runnymede in Surrey to witness Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II's funeral procession. She travelled through Runnymede to her final resting place at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Over the course of her long reign The Queen visited Runnymede several times to mark significant moments in our nation’s history.
Celebrating Magna Carta
On 15 June 1215, King John met the barons at Runnymede and sealed Magna Carta, a hugely significant charter which held the King accountable to the rule of law, just like his subjects. Magna Carta is widely considered to be the foundation stone of British liberty and democracy, particularly because of its clause which gave 'free men' the right to justice and a fair trial.
The Queen visited Runnymede for the historic 800th anniversary of Magna Carta in 2015. She led the commemorations accompanied by members of the Royal Family and many other dignitaries from across the world.
Her Majesty at Runnymede
Her Majesty The Queen visiting Runnymede to celebrate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta in June 2015.
The John F. Kennedy Memorial
Runnymede’s symbolic significance in the story of democracy meant that it was chosen as the site of UK's memorial to President John F. Kennedy following his assassination. On 14 May 1965, Her Majesty was joined by President Kennedy’s widow, Jackie, and their two children to inaugurate the memorial. During her speech, The Queen formally bequeathed the acre of land on which the Portland stone cupola is set to the United States.
The Air Forces Memorial
Runnymede was also chosen as the location for the Commonwealth Air Forces Memorial, opened by Her Majesty on 17 October 1953. The Memorial commemorates all those in the Allied Air Forces who died during the Second World War, listing the names of more than 20,000 people lost in the conflict with no known grave. Her Majesty The Queen laid a wreath on the monument’s steps and unlocked the door to the shrine with a silver key. She returned in 2003, laying a wreath to mark its 50th anniversary.
Her Majesty's most recent visit to Runnymede and the Memorial was in 2021 to mark the centenary of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), honouring the people who have given their lives over the past 100 years.
As Her Majesty The Queen said in the foreword she wrote for the official programme of the 800th Magna Carta celebrations: ‘The story of the British monarchy is intertwined with that of Runnymede and Magna Carta.’
It was fitting, therefore, that The Queen’s funeral procession travelled through Runnymede on Monday 19 September 2022. Mike Leigh, General Manager at Runnymede, noted: 'Staff and volunteers who stewarded the route were incredibly proud to form a small part of this poignant moment.' The procession and the crowds who gathered at the site on that day have become another profoundly significant moment in Runnymede’s history.
The National Trust is deeply saddened by the news of the death of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. For 70 years, we were honoured to welcome Her Majesty The Queen to a variety of places in our care.
Over 800 years ago, the famous Magna Carta was sealed at Runnymede, marking an important moment in the history of British law and liberty.
Twelve intricately carved bronze chairs celebrate the endurance of Magna Carta at Runnymede. Discover the artwork and its inspiration here.