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A royal charter is a formal document issued by a monarch as letters patent, granting a right or power to an individual or a body corporate. They were, and are still, used to establish significant organisations such as cities (with municipal charters) or universities and learned societies. Charters should be distinguished from warrants and letters of appointment, as they have perpetual effect. Typically, a Royal Charter is produced as a high-quality work of calligraphy on vellum. The British monarchy has issued over 980 royal charters.[1] Of these about 750 remain in existence. The earliest was to the town of Tain
Tain
in 1066, making it the oldest Royal Burgh in Scotland, followed by the University of Cambridge
University of Cambridge
in 1231. Charters continue to be issued by the British Crown, a recent example being that awarded to The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors, in 2014. Charters have been used in Europe since medieval times to create cities (that is, localities with recognised legal rights and privileges). The date that such a charter is granted is considered to be when a city is 'founded', regardless of when the locality originally began to be settled (which is often impossible to determine). At one time, a royal charter was the sole means by which an incorporated body could be formed, but other means (such as the registration process for limited companies) are generally used nowadays instead. Among the past and present groups formed by royal charter are the Company of Merchants of the Staple of England (13th Century), the British East India Company
British East India Company
(1600), the Hudson's Bay Company, Standard Chartered, the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O), the British South Africa Company, and some of the former British colonies on the North American mainland, City livery companies, the Bank of England
Bank of England
and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).[2]

Contents

1 Australia

1.1 Universities and colleges 1.2 Companies 1.3 Professional organisations 1.4 Other organisations

2 Belgium 3 Canada

3.1 Companies and societies 3.2 Territories and communities 3.3 Universities and colleges 3.4 Other educational institutions

4 Gibraltar 5 Hong Kong 6 India 7 Ireland 8 Italy 9 South Africa 10 Sri Lanka 11 United Kingdom 12 United States 13 See also 14 References 15 External links

Australia[edit] Universities and colleges[edit]

The University of Sydney
University of Sydney
obtained a Royal Charter in 1858[3] (3 February 1858) The University of Tasmania
University of Tasmania
obtained a Royal Charter (Letters Patent) in 1915[4] (30 August 1915) The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

Companies[edit]

Australian Gas Light Company received a royal charter in 1837 Van Diemen's Land Company
Van Diemen's Land Company
received a royal charter in 1825[3]

Professional organisations[edit]

Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Australian Institute of Building Engineers Australia Institute of Chartered Accountants
Chartered Accountants
of Australia Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of South Australia Incorporated Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Royal Australian Chemical Institute Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply

Other organisations[edit]

Australian Red Cross
Australian Red Cross
28 June 1941 Royal Automobile Club of Queensland Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland Royal Queensland Art Society Royal Queensland Golf Club Royal Queensland Show The Scout Association
The Scout Association
of Australia (23 August 1967)

Belgium[edit] The royal decree is the equivalent in Belgium
Belgium
of a Royal Charter. In the period before 1958, 32 higher education institutes had been created by royal charter. These were typically engineering or technical institutions rather than universities.[5] However, several non-technical higher education institutions have been founded, or refounded, under royal decree:

Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique, National Fund for Scientific Research, 1928[6] Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van België voor Wetenschappen en Kunsten, 1938[7] International Institute for Research and Education, 1982

Since the Belgian state reform of 1988–1989, competency over education was transferred to the federated entities of Belgium. Royal decrees can therefore no longer grant higher education institution status or university status.[8] Canada[edit]

The Hudson's Bay Company
Hudson's Bay Company
building in Montreal

A Royal Charter is granted by Order in Council, either creating an incorporated body, or giving an existent one special status.[9] This is an exercise of the Royal Prerogative, and, in Canada, there are hundreds of organisations under Royal Charters. Such organisations include charities, businesses, colleges, universities, and cities. Today, it is mostly charities and professional institutions who receive Royal Charters. Application for a charter is a petition to the Queen-in-Council. To receive a Royal Charter, the organisation must have corporate members who have at least first degree level in a relevant field, consist of 5,000 members or more, be financially sound, and it must be in the public interest to regulate the institution under a charter. However, meeting these benchmarks does not guarantee the issuance of a Royal Charter.[10] Companies and societies[edit] Companies, corporations, and societies in Canada founded under or augmented by a Royal Charter include:

The Canada Company
Canada Company
incorporated by Act of Parliament
Act of Parliament
in June 1825. Royal Charter was issued in August 1826 to purchase and develop lands. Purchased the Crown Reserve of 1,384,413 acres and a special grant of 1,100,000 acres in the Huron County area.[11] The Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, founded in 1824 as the first learned society in Canada, received its Royal Charter in 1831[12] The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
(Royal College), French: Collège royal des médecins et chirurgiens du Canada, is a national, nonprofit organisation organization established in 1929 by a special Act of Parliament
Act of Parliament
to oversee the medical education of specialists in Canada. The Royal Society
Royal Society
of Canada; founded by a Royal Charter issued in 1883 by Queen Victoria The Royal Kennebecasis Yacht Club; founded by a Royal Charter issued in 1898 by Queen Victoria[13] The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada; founded by a Royal Charter issued in 1903 by King Edward VII[14] The Royal Conservatory of Music; founded in 1886 as the Toronto Conservatory of Music; reconstituted by a Royal Charter issued in 1947 by King George VI[15] The Royal Winnipeg
Winnipeg
Ballet; founded by a Royal Charter issued in 1953 by Queen Elizabeth II[16] The Royal Life Saving Society of Canada; founded by a Royal Charter issued in 1960 by Queen Elizabeth II[17] The Royal Hamilton College of Music; founded in 1897 as the Hamilton Conservatory of Music; reconstituted by a Royal Charter issued in 1965 by Queen Elizabeth II[18] The Royal Western Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Yacht Club; founded in 1898 as the Digby Yacht Club; reconstituted by a Royal Charter issued in 1969 by Queen Elizabeth II[19] Royal Canadian Yacht Club
Royal Canadian Yacht Club
created by Royal Charter 1854 The Royal Heraldry Society of Canada; founded in 1966 as the Heraldry Society of Canada; reconstituted by a Royal Charter issued in 2002 by Queen Elizabeth II[20][dubious – discuss][full citation needed]

British royal chartered corporations operating in Canada

The East India Company; granted Royal Charter in 1600 issued by Queen Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I
(tea sales in North America)[11] The Hudson's Bay Company; founded by a Royal Charter issued in 1670 by King Charles II (administration of parts of current Quebec, Northern Ontario & North West Territories (including Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta) & Judicial connections with Upper Canada)[21] The Bank of British North America
Bank of British North America
capital raised in Britain, founded by Royal Charter issued in 1836 (Amalgamated with Bank of Montreal 1918)[21] The Royal Commonwealth Society; founded by a Royal Charter issued in 1882 by Queen Victoria[22] The Royal Academy of Dance; founded in 1920 as the Association of Teachers of Operatic Dancing; reconstituted by a Royal Charter issued in 1936 by King George V[23] The Boy Scouts Association founded in 1910; incorporated by royal charter in 1912; Canadian General Council, now called Scouts Canada, formed in 1914 and incorporated by Act of the Canadian Parliament in 1914.

Territories and communities[edit] Cities under Royal Charter are not subject to municipal Acts of Parliament applied generally to other municipalities, and instead are governed by legislation applicable to each city individually. The Royal Charter codifies the laws applied to the particular city, and lays out the powers and responsibilities not given to other municipalities in the province concerned.

St. John's; claimed as England's first oversea colony by Royal Charter issued in 1583 by Queen Elizabeth I Nova Scotia; founded by a Royal Charter issued in 1621 by King James I[24] Saint John; founded by a Royal Charter issued in 1785 by King George III[25] Vancouver Winnipeg Montreal[26]

Universities and colleges[edit] A number of Canadian universities and colleges were founded or reconstituted under Royal Charter.

University of King's College; founded by a Royal Charter issued in 1802 by King George III McGill University; founded as the Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning by a Royal Charter issued in 1821 by King George IV; reconstituted by a Royal Charter issued in 1852 by Queen Victoria[27] University of New Brunswick, founded in 1785 as the Academy of Liberal Arts and Sciences, received a provincial charter in 1800, and Royal Charter in 1827.[28] University of Toronto; founded as King's College by a Royal Proclamation of King George IV issued 15 March 1827[11][29]

Victoria University founded by Royal Charter issued on 12 October 1836 by Queen Victoria, federated with the University of Toronto
University of Toronto
in 1890.[11] Trinity College founded as the University of Trinity College by a Royal Charter issued in 1852 by Queen Victoria, federated with the University of Toronto
University of Toronto
in 1904[30]

Queen's University; founded by a Royal Charter issued in 1841 by Queen Victoria[31] Laval University; founded by a Royal Charter issued in 1852 by Queen Victoria[32] Bishop's University; founded by a Royal Charter issued in 1853 by Queen Victoria[33] University of Ottawa; granted a Royal Charter in 1866 by Queen Victoria, eighteen years after its founding. The University's Pontifical Charter was granted by Pope Leo XIII
Pope Leo XIII
in 1889.[34]

Other educational institutions[edit] Several Canadian private schools were founded or reconstituted under Royal Charter.

King's-Edgehill School; founded as King's Collegiate School by Royal Assent in 1788 and granted a Royal Charter in 1802 by King George III Upper Canada College; founded by a Royal Charter issued in 1829 by King George IV

Gibraltar[edit]

The Royal Gibraltar Police
Royal Gibraltar Police
was granted Royal Charter in 1992. The Royal Gibraltar Post Office
Royal Gibraltar Post Office
was granted Royal Charter in 2005.

Hong Kong[edit]

The emblem of the Royal Observatory, Hong Kong

During British rule in Hong Kong which is between 1842 and 1997, a number of organisations had received Royal Charter:

The Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers)
Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers)
was granted Royal Charter in 1951 and disbanded in 1995 The Royal Hong Kong Police Force
Royal Hong Kong Police Force
was granted Royal Charter in 1969 by Queen Elizabeth II, now Hong Kong Police Force (since 1997). The Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club
Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club
obtained Royal Charter in 1959, now Hong Kong Jockey Club (since 1996). The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club
Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club
obtained Royal Charter in 1894 The Royal Society
Royal Society
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – now the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (since 1997) The Royal Observatory, Hong Kong
Royal Observatory, Hong Kong
was granted Royal Charter in 1912 by King George V
King George V
– now Hong Kong Observatory (since 1997)[35] The Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force
Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force
was granted Royal Charter in 1951 by King George VI
George VI
– now Government Flying Service (since 1993) The Royal Hong Kong Golf Club
Hong Kong Golf Club
was granted Royal Charter in 1889 – now Hong Kong Golf Club
Hong Kong Golf Club
(since 1996) The Standard Chartered
Standard Chartered
Bank was granted Royal Charter in 1853. It is one of the three banknote-issuing banks in Hong Kong. The Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch Chartered originally in 1847, disbanded 1859, reorganised 1959.

India[edit] The Institution of Engineers was incorporated by royal charter in 1935.[36] Ireland[edit] A number of Irish institutions retain the "Royal" prefix, even though Republic of Ireland severed all remaining connections between the state and the British monarch in 1949.

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
(1784) Royal College of Physicians of Ireland
Royal College of Physicians of Ireland
(1667) Royal Black Institution (1797) Royal Irish Academy
Royal Irish Academy
– charter granted 1785 Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
– (1720) Royal Irish Academy
Royal Irish Academy
of Music - (1872)

A more detailed list of current Irish institutions with Royal patronage is available here A list of former Royal institutions with ties to Ireland, but they were mostly British institutions created in Ireland during British rule:

Royal Irish Regiment (1684–1922)
Royal Irish Regiment (1684–1922)
– disbanded Royal Irish Constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary
1868–1922 – disbanded and replaced by Garda Síochána Royal Irish Artillery
Royal Irish Artillery
– disbanded 1801 Royal Irish Rifles
Royal Irish Rifles
– disbanded 1763 Royal Ulster Rifles
Royal Ulster Rifles
1793–1881 – renamed Royal Irish Rifles
Royal Irish Rifles
and retained name until 1921 (renamed as Royal Ulster Rifles
Royal Ulster Rifles
until 1947 when it merged with Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
and Royal Irish Fusiliers to form North Irish Brigade Royal Irish Fusiliers
Royal Irish Fusiliers
1827–1947 Royal University of Ireland
Royal University of Ireland
1880–1908 Royal Irish Fisheries Company Trinity College, Dublin
Trinity College, Dublin
1592 – present

Italy[edit] The British Institute of Florence
British Institute of Florence
was granted a Royal Charter in 1923.[37] South Africa[edit] The University of South Africa
University of South Africa
received a Royal Charter in 1877. The Natal Yacht Club (Durban) received a Royal Charter in 1891, and is still known as [38] Royal Natal Yacht Club. The Natal Carbineers regiment received a Royal Charter in 1935, becoming known as the Royal Natal Carbineers
Natal Carbineers
until South Africa became a republic in 1961. The Royal Natal National Park's name remained unchanged, as did that of the Royal Society
Royal Society
of South Africa, which received its Royal Charter in 1908.[39] Sri Lanka[edit]

Royal College, Colombo Royal Colombo Golf Cub

United Kingdom[edit] Main article: List of organisations in the United Kingdom with a royal charter Among the 750 or so organisations with Royal Charters are cities; the Bank of England; the BBC; theatres such as the Royal Opera House
Royal Opera House
and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane; Livery Companies; universities (mostly those founded before 1993) and learned societies; professional institutions, such as the Institution of Royal Engineers and charities.[40] A Royal Charter is the mechanism by which a British town is raised to the status of city. Most recently Chelmsford in Essex was granted a Royal Charter in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Inverness, Brighton & Hove and Wolverhampton were given their charters to celebrate the Millennium, and Preston, Stirling, Newport, Lisburn
Lisburn
and Newry
Newry
to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II
in 2002. Most British universities operate under Royal Charters, giving them the authority to award degrees. The most recent generation of UK universities were granted the power to award degrees by the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 instead of by Royal Charter, while some other universities operate under Acts of Parliament. The University of Buckingham, The University of Law
The University of Law
are the only private higher education institutions to have received a Royal Charter.[41] A number of English public schools such as Harrow School, Roedean School for Girls and Malvern College
Malvern College
have received Royal Charters[42] Almost without exception, the longstanding learned societies, such as the Royal Society, the Royal Society
Royal Society
of Literature, and the Royal Medical Society have Royal Charters. Most new grants of Royal Charters these days are reserved for eminent professional institutions, learned societies, or charities, who have a solid record of achievement and are financially stable.[40] Though a royal charter is not necessary for them to incorporate or operate, it is often sought as recognition of "pre-eminence, stability and permanence" in representing their field of activity. For example, the five accountancy institutes which make up the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies each have a Royal Charter which allows their qualified members to style themselves Chartered Accountants. The BBC
BBC
operates under a Royal Charter which lasts for a period of ten years, after which it is renewed. A Royal Charter changes a body from a collection of individuals into a single legal entity. Once incorporated by Royal Charter, amendments to the Charter and by-laws require government approval.[40] In January 2007, the UK Trade Marks Registry refused to grant protection to the American Chartered Financial Analyst
Chartered Financial Analyst
trademark, as the word "chartered" in the UK is associated with royal charters.[43] A list of UK chartered professional associations can be found here. United States[edit]

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Although several American universities which predate the American Revolution purport to hold royal charters, in a number of cases they were in fact created by a grant from a local council such as a colonial legislature. Colleges created by royal charter from King William III and Queen Mary II of England:

The College of William & Mary 1693 – (created by Letters Patent)

Colleges created by King George II of Great Britain:

Columbia University
Columbia University
1754 as King's College – (probably created by Letters Patent)

American colleges popularly believed to have been established by Royal Charter, but actually by some other type of grant:

Harvard College
Harvard College
1639 – By Act of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony Yale University
Yale University
1701 – as Collegiate School by Act of the General Assembly of Connecticut Princeton University
Princeton University
1746 – as College of New Jersey by the letters patent from King George II via the Governor of the Province of New Jersey Brown University
Brown University
1764 – as College of Rhode Island by an Act of the Governor and General Assembly of the English Colony of Rhode Island Rutgers University
Rutgers University
1766 – as Queen's College by letters patent from King George II via Governor William Franklin
William Franklin
of the Province of New Jersey Dartmouth College
Dartmouth College
1769 – by Letters Patent
Letters Patent
from King George III via the Governor of the province of New Hampshire.

The distinction between the Letters Patent
Letters Patent
forming Dartmouth, Princeton, and Rutgers versus those documents founding William & Mary or King's College (Columbia University) is that the seal of the Province of New Hampshire appears on Dartmouth College's charter and that the seal of the Province of New Jersey appears on Princeton University's and Rutgers University's charters while the Great Seal of the Realm appears on the College of William and Mary and King's College documents. See also[edit]

Koninklijk
Koninklijk
in the Netherlands
Netherlands
and Belgium Congressional charter, equivalent document in the United States

References[edit]

^ Chartered bodies Privy Council. Privycouncil.independent.gov.uk. Retrieved 2 May 2012. ^ BBC
BBC
Trust Charter and Agreement. ^ a b http://fmweb01.ucc.usyd.edu.au/FMPro?-db=POL_Main.fp5&-lay=www&-format=/pol/pol_summary.html&DocID=404&-find ^ [1] ^ Non-University Higher Technical Education in Belgium
Belgium
Gilbert Van Vaek and Henk Van Daele ^ Gilbert Van Vaek and Henk Van Daele Archived 23 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Belgium
Belgium
Royal Historical Commission Archived 13 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine. ^ [2] When is an institution considered a recognised higher education institution or a university? ^ Privy Council Office: Royal Charter ^ Privy Council: Royal Charter ^ a b c d Handbook of Upper Canadian Chronology: Revised Edition By Frederick H. Armstrong 1841. Retrieved 28 July 2014.  ^ "The Canadian Encyclopedia: Literary and Historical Society of Quebec". Retrieved 11 December 2014.  ^ New Brunswick; reprint of: Kurley, Daniel; Times Globe: Elusive Oak; 11 June 1998. New-brunswick.net. Retrieved 2 May 2012. ^ Royal Astronomical Society of Canada: Going Royal: A History of Public Service. Rasc.ca. Retrieved 2 May 2012. ^ Royal Conservatory of Music: The RCM: History of The Royal Conservatory of Music Archived 5 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine.. Rcmusic.ca. Retrieved 2 May 2012. ^ Canada Council for the Arts: Royal Winnipeg Ballet
Royal Winnipeg Ballet
Archived 31 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine.. Canadacouncil.ca (27 March 2004). Retrieved 2 May 2012. ^ The Royal Life Saving Society of Canada
Royal Life Saving Society of Canada
Saskatchewan Branch, Inc.; Constitution Archived 24 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Royal Hamilton College of Music. The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2 May 2012. ^ Royal Western Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Yacht Club: Annapolis Basin Archived 18 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine. ^ The Royal Heraldry Society of Canada: Ottawa, Ontario. Heraldry.ca. Retrieved 2 May 2012. ^ a b "Corporate Collections > Reference > The Charter". Hudson's Bay Company. Retrieved 14 June 2007.  ^ The Royal Commonwealth Society: Values of the Royal Commonwealth Society. Rcs.ca (4 January 2007). Retrieved 2 May 2012. ^ Royal Academy of Dance
Royal Academy of Dance
Canada: About us. Radcanada.org. Retrieved 2 May 2012. ^ Canada4Life; Nova Scotia. Canada4life.ca. Retrieved 2 May 2012. ^ City Solicitor (June 2000), "Powers of Canadian Cities: The legal framework", Canada's Cities: Unleash our Potential, Toronto: City of Toronto, archived from the original on 17 July 2010, retrieved 23 May 2009  ^ Canada's Cities: Unleash our Potential Archived 17 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine.. Canadascities.ca (1 September 2001). Retrieved 2 May 2012. ^ Victoria (6 July 1852), "Royal Charter of McGill University", written at Westminster, in McGill University, Admin and Governance > University Secretariat, Montreal: Queen's Printer, retrieved 23 May 2009  ^ "Our History UNB". www.unb.ca. Retrieved 2016-10-01.  ^ Trinity College: About Trinity: History Archived 29 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine.. Trinity.utoronto.ca (13 March 2005). Retrieved 2 May 2012. ^ Colleges. Utoronto.ca (29 March 2010). Retrieved 2 May 2012. ^ Queen's University: Queen's University
Queen's University
Royal Charter Archived 6 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Le Bas Canada 1763–1867. Republiquelibre.org. Retrieved 2 May 2012. ^ Canada Post: Canada Post confers stamp on Bishop's University; 20 January 2003 ^ "About the History of the University of Ottawa". University of Ottawa Archives. Retrieved 30 April 2008.  ^ History of the Hong Kong Observatory. Hko.gov.hk. Retrieved 2 May 2012. ^ Text of letters patent (royal charter) of incorporation, dated 9 September 1935. Retrieved 8 July 2011. ^ Brief history of the British Institute of Florence
British Institute of Florence
Retrieved 13 March 2013. ^ http://rnyc.org.za/ ^ Royal Society of South Africa
Royal Society of South Africa
Brief History ^ a b c Privy Council Office – Chartered Bodies. Privycouncil.independent.gov.uk. Retrieved 2 May 2012. ^ BPP University College appears on the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills List of Recognised Bodies (those institutions or bodies, including universities, which have their own UK degree awarding powers (see BIS Recognised Bodies) but does not appear among the 987 bodies listed on the Privy Council's website as holders of Royal Charters (see Privy Council Office – Chartered Bodies). ^ " Roedean School
Roedean School
- Royal Charter & By Laws" (PDF).  ^ http://www.patent.gov.uk/tm/t-decisionmaking/t-challenge/t-challenge-decision-results/o31506.pdf

External links[edit]

Royal charters page on the Privy Council website Royal Charter of the BBC Royal Charter of the Australian Academy of the Humanities Charter of the University of Birmingham Royal Charter of Rhode Island (1663) The Company of Merchants of the Staple's Royal Charter

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