Magna Carta established for the first time the principle that everybody, including the sovereign, was subject to the law. The most famous clauses of Magna Carta declare that no free man shall be imprisoned without trial by his equals or by the law of the land, and that no-one shall be denied justice.
This 1217 copy of Magna Carta, exhibited in partnership with Hereford Cathedral, will be travelling a total of 65,000 miles to 9 cities, including Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai, across 3 continents in a Global Tour organised by the GREAT campaign and made possible by the generous support of British Airways. It will be displayed alongside the only surviving copy of the King’s Writ, a letter sent by King John from Runnymede in 1215 to royal officials in each English county, announcing the terms of Magna Carta.
The British Consul General, Caroline Wilson commented:
It is very meaningful to be able to bring Magna Carta to Hong Kong. This is a seminal legal document. Its principles have stood the test of time. They are corner stones for the legal systems of both the United Kingdom and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The Magna Carta exhibition is the perfect occasion to celebrate our shared common law heritage and the close links between our legal systems. I hope that members of the public, including schoolchildren and students, will take the opportunity to see, with their own eyes, this historic document close up. And to learn about what it represents.
Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen also welcomed the tour and said:
The rule of law, which the Department of Justice has been doing its utmost to uphold, is the bedrock of Hong Kong’s success. Our common law heritage is not just preserved but allowed to develop under the Basic Law which implements the principle of “One Country, Two Systems”. Magna Carta is an embodiment of a number of core values such as equality before the law and access to justice which the community of the Hong Kong SAR shares. In this regard, we are privileged to have an opportunity to be involved in one of the celebratory events for the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, which is the tour of its 1217 copy to the Hong Kong SAR, allowing the general public here to better understand the enduring relevance of the rule of law in a modern global context.
The Magna Carta will be flown from London to Hong Kong by British Airways and will be on display to the public from Wednesday 11 November to Saturday 14 November at Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery, 5/F One Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty.
Noella Ferns, British Airways’ regional general manager for Greater China and the Philippines said:
We are proud to be entrusted with flying this important document around the world for the global tour. We have nearly 80 years of history of flying between Hong Kong and London, and this is certainly one of the most precious pieces of cargo we’ve ever had the honour of carrying.
Kevin Ching, CEO of Sotheby’s Asia, commented:
Sir Winston Churchill once hailed Magna Carta as a reaffirmation of a supreme law which is above the King and which even he must not break. Those who value the rule of law and due legal process have always held Magna Carta in the highest respect ever since its enactment. Sotheby’s is honoured and proud to showcase this document of profound historical and cultural significance, also known as the Great Charter of Liberties, which is arguably the foundation of the great common law heritage of the Hong Kong SAR.
Notes to editors
The Magna Carta 800 Global Tour
The GREAT Britain campaign showcases the very best of what the UK has to offer and encourages people to visit, do business, invest and study in the UK. The GREAT campaign’s Magna Carta Global Tour started with a public exhibition at the New York Historical Society in September. From there it travelled to its second stop in Luxembourg, where it was on display in the European Court of Justice. Magna Carta is currently in China where it will be exhibited in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou before coming to Hong Kong in mid-November. Following the Hong Kong leg the Magna Carta will travel to Singapore, Malta and Portugal.
Hereford Cathedral and Magna Carta
Hereford Cathedral has a special connection to the history of Magna Carta. In 1215, the Bishop of Hereford, Giles de Briouze, was the only bishop to join the other Magna Carta barons in rebellion against King John. Like other great English cathedrals, Hereford subsequently became home to a copy of Magna Carta and an original 1215 Kings Writ. Hereford is also home to the Mappa Mundi, the largest surviving Medieval World Map, and a unique medieval chained library, inspiration for the Hogwart’s Restricted Library in the Harry Potter films. The Hereford Cathedral Magna Carta is one of only 18 believed to be in existence.
British Airways, part of International Airlines Group, is one of the world’s leading global premium airlines and the largest international carrier in the UK. The carrier has its home base at the award-winning London Heathrow Terminal 5, and flies to more than 70 different countries. British Airways celebrates its 80 years of flying to Hong Kong next year and currently operates two daily flights between London and Hong Kong offering customers a choice of four cabins. The route was one of the first to be operated by the airline’s flagship A380 ‘superjumbo’ aircraft, accommodating 469 passengers in First, Club World business class, World Traveller Plus and World Traveller.