Royal visit marks Jersey mace anniversary

Royal Mace leaving the Royal Square
Image caption The Royal Mace was given to the island of Jersey by King Charles II in 1663

Jersey's loyalty to the crown during the English Civil War has been remembered.

Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, visited Jersey to mark 350 years since the Royal Mace was given to the island by King Charles II.

He presented the mace on 28 November 1663 in gratitude for his happy times on the island during his years in exile.

It has been a feature of the island's parliamentary proceedings ever since.

The mace is made out of 11 pieces of silver gilt and features the symbols of the British nations.

Historian Frank Falle said it was once the weapon of a Bishop going into war.

He said: "When a bishop went into battle he was not allowed to draw blood from the enemy. He had a blunt instrument, known as a mace to donk people over the head with.

"It became a significant weapon but how it transferred from the church into royalty is uncertain."

The prince said: "It was a very long time ago that maces were last used as weapons and I don't want to hear any member of the States assembly has been testing your mace's effectiveness at resolving a disagreement.

"As the saying goes, please don't try this in your parliament."

The mace came to Jersey during the English Civil War when there were conflicts between parliamentarians and royalists.

During the war, King Charles I sent his son out of the country and he stayed at Jersey's Elizabeth Castle before joining his mother near Paris.

He returned to Jersey in 1649 shortly after the death of his father at the hands of the Parliamentarians.

The-then Bailiff, Sir George Carteret, declared him King Charles II on behalf of all of the British Isles in the Royal Square in St Helier.

Sir George was later given lands in North America that he named New Jersey, and the island was presented with the mace.

The current Bailiff of Jersey, Sir Michael Birt, said he felt the mace was an important part of island history and felt privileged to be part of that tradition.

Image caption Prince Edward warned politicians against using the mace "to resolve disputes"

He said: "Many maces in England are a symbol of delegated authority. If the sovereign turns up in person then the mace has to be placed on its side. That happens in Westminster.

"When the monarch comes to Jersey that doesn't happen. The mace remains upright."

Mr Falle said the Carteret family played a vital part in the island's royalist allegiance and dominated key roles for decades.

He said: "The island did have its own problems, the Carteret family were taking on important roles and eternalising them, meaning only Carterets could hold them.

"It was a member of this family that was responsible for making the island a refuge for Charles II.

"Sir Philip de Carteret, the Seignure of St Ouen, held the island and the two castles on behalf of the crown, despite a number of islanders supporting the parliamentarians.

"Bailiff and Lieutenant Governor Sir George Carteret had a declaration made, involving all other nations of the British Isles and declared on their behalf that King Charles II was 'our king' in the Royal Square."

Sir Michael said even today, more than 800 years after the island declared allegiance to the English crown, islanders were loyal to the reigning monarch.

He said: "It is part of our identity, just as of course in Britain the monarchy is extremely popular. It is a very unifying entity I think and it is part of what we are.

"I always feel very privileged - honoured - to be in position. It was given to one of my predecessors many centuries ago and it is wonderful we have this marvellous work of art in our possession."

On the foot of the face is a Latin inscription which explains the reason for the mace being given to the island of Jersey.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites