Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will visit the U.S. from March 17-20 for the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, the foundation of Britain’s and America’s laws.
The Prince of Wales will make his first-ever visit to the National Archives to see America’s only original Magna Carta — whose principles are embodied in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights — and view those documents, termed America’s “Charters of Freedom”.
One of the most important legal documents in the history of democracy, the Magna Carta (“Great Charter”) was created and signed in 1215, and confirmed several times. The National Archives’ 1297 Magna Carta is one of 17 total originals still in existence.
The 1297 Magna Carta is on loan indefinitely from billionaire philanthropist David Rubenstein, and is installed in the Archives’ “Records of Rights” permanent exhibition in the new gallery named for him.
In addition to visiting the National Archives during their Washington, D.C. stop March 17-19, the Royal Highnesses will also commemorate President Abraham Lincoln as well as President George Washington, by visiting his estate Mount Vernon, just outside D.C.
The Prince and the Duchess will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, and of Lincoln’s assassination, by visiting “The Soldiers’ Home” on the grounds of the Lincoln Cottage, where he developed the Emancipation Proclamation.
“President Lincoln’s Cottage may be the single most fascinating look at a President’s life in Washington,” raves “Washingtonian” Magazine, that ranked it 8th in this month’s cover story “The Great Washington, D.C. Bucket List”.
The Gothic-Revival “Soldiers’ Home”, established in 1851, is America’s oldest veterans’ retirement home. There, the British royal couple will meet veterans from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coastguard.
The Duchess will attend a meeting of D.C.’s Sexual Assault Response Team (S.A.R.T.), a coalition of 12 public and private community agencies working together to serve victims of sexual assault and to teach ways of preventing sexual assault.
On March 20, their Royal Highnesses will go to Louisville, Kentucky, where they will focus on issues of health, clean air, and the connection between farming and food, according to a statement on the Prince of Wales’ official website.
Even before the royal visit, the National Archives is honoring the Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary by loaning a related treasure — the Delaware ratification of the Bill of Rights — to the U.K. for the British Library’s landmark exhibition, “Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy” March 13-Sept. 1. It follows the evolution of the Magna Carta from a 1215 medieval peace treaty to an international symbol of freedom and fundamental rights.
The loan marks the first time this precious 1789 document will travel outside the U.S. The Delaware ratification of the Bill of Rights is one of the 14 original copies, and only 12 are known to survive.
In a similar tribute, Britain had loaned one of the four existing original copies of the 1215 Magna Carta (the Lincoln Cathedral Magna Carta) to the Library of Congress Nov. 7, 2014-Jan. 19, 2015 for its magnificent exhibit “Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor”.
Britain’s Princess Anne, Prince Charles’ sister, opened the rare display.
“The integrity of the rule of law has been very difficult to maintain,” noted Princess Anne, who cautioned that “we take for granted our freedom and liberty.”
Eight hundred years after “law of the land” was established by the Magna Carta, its many principles of trial by jury, due process, no taxation without representation, habeas corpus… remain crucial for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in every democracy.