One of 18 surviving original versions of the Magna Carta, and the only surviving 1217 King’s Writ from Runnymede, got the VIP (Very Important Parchment) treatment when they flew First Class on a British Airways flight to New York on Monday, accompanied by a security guard.
This First Class flight marks the beginning of a world tour for the precious document which will visit seven countries, across four continents and 25 time zones, racking up 65,000 miles.
British Airways Captain Ian Aird, who flew the Magna Carta 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 tour was organised by Hereford Cathedral in partnership with the UK’s GREAT Britain Campaign and British Airways, as part of the Magna Carta’s 800th Anniversary celebrations.
The documents are on loan from Hereford Cathedral in England, and will be on exhibit in New York and then continue to tour Luxembourg, China, including Hong Kong, Singapore, returning to Malta and finally Lisbon, where they will be displayed at a number of public venues.
The “Magna Carta 800: Sharing the Legacy of Freedom” exhibition will be on display from September 23 through September 30, 2015 at the New-York Historical Society.
This will be the first and only US stop on the global tour. The documents will be displayed alongside key documents relating to the creation of the United States from the New-York Historical Society Library. An exhibition of incredible significance to the history of humanity, and to any who value the principles of democracy.
“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.”
Say the organisers: “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.”