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Tuesday, 22 March 2011

What does it mean to be "Royal" Wootton Bassett?

Q&A
 Here are some questions and Answers from colleagues in Wootton Bassett Town Council:-

What exactly does ‘conferring the title of ‘Royal’ on the town’ mean?
Once The Queen has conferred the title, the town will for ever afterwards be entitled to be called ‘Royal Wootton Bassett’. 

How will it be used?
In effect, ‘Royal Wootton Bassett’ will replace ‘Wootton Bassett’ as the town’s full name.  Residents and others may choose to refer to the town as ‘Royal Wootton Bassett’ if they wish to do so, and the Town Council may wish to incorporate the new name into its letterhead and so on.  It will of course continue to be perfectly acceptable, in most circumstances – probably all except the most formal communications and events - to refer to the town by its ancient name of ‘Wootton Bassett’.   There will be no withdrawal of maps etc that use the current name!  

When will Wootton Bassett officially become ‘Royal Wootton Bassett’? And how does it happen, what is the process?
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. 

What are Letters Patent?
Letters Patent are an official document from the Crown which grant exclusive rights such as becoming a life peer or making and selling an invention. The earliest known Letters Patent were granted by Henry VI in 1449 to John of Utynam which gave him a 20-year monopoly for a method of making stained glass, required for the windows of Eton College.

Her Majesty issues Letters Patent under her Royal Prerogative. This is a set of special duties and powers belonging to the Sovereign, such as the right to appoint ministers or to end a session of Parliament.

Will the Queen or other members of the Royal Family go there for a presentation to mark the occasion?
Arrangements will need to be made for the Letters Patent to be conveyed to the Town Council later this year.  Whether it will be possible for the Queen or another member of the Royal Family to present the Letters Patent will be a question for Buckingham Palace and it is too early to say. 

How many other places have been honoured like this? What were the reasons and when did they receive their titles?
There are a number of Royal Boroughs in England and Greenwich is of course to become a Royal Borough in 2012 in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, but 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.   

Does everything that is currently Wootton Bassett e.g. Wootton Bassett school become Royal Wootton Bassett? What if they don’t want to use the title?
No, they do not.  The title ‘Royal’ is being granted to the town, collectively, only, and should not be used by establishments or institutions which simply take their name from the town.  An application would need to be made (to the Cabinet Office), and approval would by no means be automatic. 

How much will it cost? Who will pay for any costs involved?
The cost of the Letters Patent will be met from public funds, as is only right given the nation’s gratitude and admiration for the way in which Wootton Bassett has paid its respects during all the repatriations since 2007.     

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