Thursday, 28 November 2013

Honorary Freedom of the City of London for Archbishop Desmond Tutu Monday 25th November

I have had the great privilege of knowing Desmond Tutu as a close personal friend for over fifty years and in that time have seen him very many times either in South Africa, the United States or here in England.  I first met him in 1962 when he came to my church in Golders Green as a young curate and I babysat for him and his wife Leah - their daughter Mpho being born in London.
Desmond's wife Leah also tested me in some of my guide badges and did not always pass me, she was very strict and expected high standards.

Knowing I would be with him for the day on November 25th before he flew back to Cape Town I looked into the possibility of him being the recipient of the Freedom of the City of London - something which I could organise fairly easily.  I quietly mentioned this to Murray Craig in the Chamberlain's Office and the City suddenly went into overdrive - very quickly deciding that it wanted to extend the Honorary Freedom, a very rare privilege and one that had not been granted to anyone since 2002 and then only to Royalty.  The process and ceremony is altogether different and miraculously we were able to pull together a formal reception and ceremony in Mansion House to which the whole of the Court of the Marketors Company was invited.

The ceremony involves the whole of the Court of Common Council who vote on the resolution on the day.

The recipient of many awards over the years, Archbishop Tutu was very touched by the rare honour extended by the City, particularly as his close friend Nelson Mandela had received the Honorary Freedom in 1996 when serving as President.   After the ceremony I accompanied the Archbishop to Heathrow and said goodbye there.  

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