The administration of the British Monarchist Society recently met supportive MPs and Patrons at Westminster Hall. There are few more fitting venues to meet our politicians, for Westminster Hall embodies the Constitutional fact of government by the Queen-in-Parliament. All strands of our Constitution, Executive, Legislative and Judicial can trace their histories to this building. It is the one remaining Mediaeval part of Parliament, the rest having burnt down in the 1800s. It was built by the second Norman King, William Rufus and its magnificent hammer-beam roof, a marvel in its own right, was built at the command of Richard II. The white hart, Richard II’s emblem, is in evidence in the architecture.
The King’s Table – a symbol of Royal power and might – was situated in Westminster Hall. It was where the Monarchs took possession of their kingdom through acclamation by the Peers before the coronation service in Westminster Abbey. Henry VIII not only held court there like his predecessors but allegedly used the hall as a tennis court, apparently with one of the balls being lost in the rafters of the hammer-beam roof! Royalty has lain-in-state in this magnificent setting – King Edward VII, King George V, Queen Mary, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. The links with the Monarchy are clear. Of course, the Monarchy is also the Fount of Justice and the courts the King’s Bench and Chancery sat in Westminster Hall until the 1820s.
The Judiciary traces its origins back to Westminster Hall, which links it with the institution of Monarchy. The head of our legal system, the Lord Chancellor sat in Westminster Hall as the “Keeper of the Monarch’s Conscience”. The Chancery originally dealt with all aspects of administration and was not only a court of law. Therefore Westminster Hall was at the very heart of government administration. Furthermore, the Exchequer was also based at Westminster Hall, once the Treasury was moved from Winchester. Westminster Hall remains an integral part of Parliament as it was where the nadir of the relationship between Monarch and Parliament was reached – when Charles I was tried by Parliament. Perhaps we can think of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s address to the Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall and the window commemorating the Diamond Jubilee today, which symbolise the restoration of the relationship between that of the Monarch and Parliament.
What all of this rich history in Westminster Hall demonstrates to us in today’s modern world, is the vast nature and history of our Constitution combined with the Monarchy at its heart. Administration, Justice and Parliament are all connected to Westminster Hall and the Monarchy is the binding fibre that keeps it all together, interlinked with the past, present and future in the hallowed halls of Westminster. Westminster Hall is a physical reminder of our “Island Story” and that of the role which our Monarchy has played in that history. This is why there would not have been a more fitting place for the British Monarchist Society to meet the Members of Parliament who act as it’s patrons other than in the great, symbolic and powerful setting of Westminster Hall.