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Pic of the Week: Princess Anne Opens Magna Carta Exhibition

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Library curator Nathan Dorn and Princess Anne view the exhibit. Photo by John Harrington.
Library curator Nathan Dorn and Princess Anne view the exhibit. Photo by John Harrington.

Last Thursday, the Library of Congress opened a new exhibition, “Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor,” which marks two special occasions: Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary and the return of the Lincoln Magna Carta to the Library after 75 years, where it was sent for safekeeping during World War II. Guest of honor for the festivities, which also included an evening program following the exhibition’s opening, was Britain’s Princess Anne.

During the opening ceremony, the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, the Temple Church Choir of London and the Howard University Singers performed, their sounds echoing majestically in the Library’s Great Hall.

“This exhibition really does underscore the importance of great cultural institutions like the Library of Congress and the British Library,” said the princess, who is Queen Elizabeth’s daughter, at the gala. “They have been entrusted with acquiring and preserving the intellectual heritage of our two nations as well as providing access to that heritage.

“This exhibition will very much enrich the public understanding of our heritage, not only by revisiting the major achievements of history but by offering new insights into those achievements in these changing times.”

The Lincoln Magna Carta is one of only four remaining original copies of the document to which King John affixed his seal at Runnymede in 1215. After a six-month public showing in the British Pavilion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, the document traveled to Washington, D.C. On Nov. 28, 1939, the British Ambassador to the United States, in an official ceremony, handed Magna Carta over to Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish for safekeeping during World War II. The Library placed the document on exhibition until the U.S. entry into the war, when the Library sent Magna Carta to Fort Knox, Ky. The document returned to England in 1946.

You can read more about the opening day events and see more pictures in these  two blog posts from In Custodia Legis, the Law Library of Congress’s blog.

Comments (2)

  1. Funny! When this exhibit was on display at the Clark Museum in Williamstown, MA there was a sign on the wall above the Magna Carta to not lean on or touch the case which held the Great Charteer!!!!Royalty has its’ privilige.

  2. The US violated the Magna Carta when it killed al-Awlaki and 2 weeks later, in a different place, his 16 y/o son.

    al-Awlaki certainly could have been charged, for making ‘terroristic threats’ over the radio and adjudicated.His son was guilty of nothing.Both were born in America.

    The US has seen what a mess it made in Gitmo, prefers to deny habeas corpus and right of trial by a jury of one’s peer’s, tenets of the Magna Carta.

    I am interested in rare manuscripts and books, but let’s remember, the meaning of the Magna Carta, lest we ‘idolize’ the manuscript itself.

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