South East Wales

Freedom of Cardiff: List of recipients from 1886

Nelson Mandela, Princess Diana, Dame Shirley Bassey
Image caption Nelson Mandela, Princess Diana, and now Dame Shirley Bassey - all given the freedom of Cardiff

Dame Shirley Bassey becomes only the 61st person to receive the honour of the Freedom of the City of Cardiff.

It is the highest honour that the city can bestow on an individual, and was first awarded in 1886.

In 2008, councils set out to formalise who could be recognised with the title, demanding that recipients must fulfil at least one of the following criteria:

  • An individual or organisation of outstanding and acknowledged merit, with close links to the City and County of Cardiff.
  • An individual or organisation who has made an outstanding and acknowledged contribution to the development of Cardiff, the Capital City for Wales.
  • An individual or organisation who demonstrates outstanding and acknowledged achievements on the international stage that have served to benefit the international community.

Unlike freeman honours awarded in cities such as London, the Cardiff title is purely honorary, without any special privileges.

In London, being given the freedom of the city historically bestowed the right to herd sheep over London bridge, to go about the city with a drawn sword, and if convicted of a capital offence, to be hung with a silken rope.

Image caption HMS Cardiff - now decommissioned, its crews were given freedom of the city in 1988

In addition to individuals receiving freedom of the city, several organisations have also been recognised:

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