Prime Minister David Cameron announced today that the town Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire, will become Royal Wootton Bassett later this year.
Speaking in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister said:
I recently made a recommendation to Her Majesty the Queen, and I am very pleased today to announce, that Her Majesty has agreed to confer the title ‘Royal’ upon the town, as an enduring symbol of the nation’s admiration and gratitude. The town will become ‘Royal Wootton Bassett’ later this year.
The Prime Minister took the opportunity to thank the people of Wootton Bassett for “their deeply moving and dignified demonstrations of respect and mourning.
The Mayor of Wootton Bassett, Mary Champion, said:
This is a great honour for our community as the repatriations move away from Wootton Bassett.
Whilst we have never sought recognition for our simple act of respect, I am certain that this will serve to reinforce the pride and gratitude we feel for the members of our Armed Services, who will always be in our thoughts.
A Written Ministerial Statement from the Secretary of State for Defence, Dr Liam Fox confirmed that repatriation ceremonies for those killed in operational theatres will move from RAF Lyneham to RAF Brize Norton in September this year, following the closure of RAF Lyneham, which was originally announced in 2003.
Dr Liam Fox, Secretary of State for Defence, said:
I would like to thank RAF Lyneham for their excellent work in supporting the important task of repatriation ceremonies. I am certain that RAF Brize Norton will maintain the standard of solemnity, dignity and respect to our Service Personnel killed on operations as shown by the personnel at RAF Lyneham.
I would also like to record publicly my thanks to the people of Wootton Bassett who have chosen to pay their respects in a unique and special way. It is such spontaneous public support that captures the spirit of the British people, and I am very grateful for those who have participated; such gestures do not go unnoticed by those deployed on operations.
Once The Queen has conferred the title, the town will for ever afterwards be entitled to be called ‘Royal Wootton Bassett’. The new name will legally come into effect on the date the legal instrument - in this case, Letters Patent - is signed and sealed by The Queen. Officials will be contacting the Town Council to agree with them what form the Letters Patent should take.
The Government will discuss with Buckingham Palace, the Armed Forces and the Local Authorities in Wootton Bassett how best to celebrate the town’s new title and mark the end of repatriations through the town.
Notes for Editors
- The only other Royal towns in England are Royal Leamington Spa and Royal Tunbridge Wells. Both of these spa towns petitioned for the honour in recognition of their antiquity and Royal patronage of their facilities. Leamington Spa was granted the title in 1838 by Queen Victoria, and Tunbridge Wells in 1909 by King Edward VII.
- Caernarvon in Wales is a royal town of a different kind - ‘the Royal town of Caernarvon’ - because it was made a Royal Borough by the Queen in 1963 and was allowed to retain the honour when it ceased to be a borough in 1974.
- There are a number of Royal Boroughs in England. Greenwich will become a Royal Borough in 2012 in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.