NEW YORK, NY – A global tour began yesterday to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, one of the most important historical documents in the world. Over the course of four months, an original version of the document from 1217, accompanied by the only surviving 1215 King’s Writ from Runnymede, will pass through seven countries, across four continents and 25 time zones, travelling a total of approximately 65,000 miles.
British Airways has provided leadership support for the Magna Carta 800 Global Tour, and on Monday, September 21, flew the document across the Atlantic in the airline’s first-class cabin with a dedicated security guard.
On loan from Hereford Cathedral in England, both documents will continue from New York to tour stops in China (including Hong Kong), Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, and Singapore, where it will be displayed at a number of public venues.
The “Magna Carta 800: Sharing the Legacy of Freedom” exhibition at the New-York Historical Society, one of America’s pre-eminent cultural institutions, will be on view from September 23 through September 30, 2015. It is the first and only US stop on the global tour, and the documents will be on display alongside key documents relating to the creation of the United States from the New-York Historical Society Library.
“The Magna Carta is a hugely important part of our history and stands as a beacon for our values today,” UK Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire said. “The tour is a fantastic way of enabling people from America to Asia to see it first hand, and to reflect on all that it stands for.”
British Airways Captain Ian Aird, who flew the charter from London Heathrow to New York’s JFK airport, said: “VIPs regularly travel across the pond with us, but with a price tag of £24 million the Magna Carta and the King’s Writ are definitely one of the most precious pieces of cargo we’ve ever had the honor of carrying. The news that we had such an important piece of history on board certainly created a buzz in our First class cabin.”
The Magna Carta has played a key role in the history of democracy around the world and still forms part of British law today. The tour will demonstrate its international resonance while also showcasing British influence across trade, law, international values and democracy. In the US, Magna Carta remains a hugely respected symbol of independence and civil liberty, and is considered the catalyst for the development of modern-day democracy in the New World. The document established fundamental principles that inspired America’s Founding Fathers when they wrote the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.