The Princess Royal has become the latest member of the Royal Family to receive honorary membership of Bristol’s Society of Merchant Venturers.
Since receiving its first royal charter from Edward VI in 1552, the group has extended honorary membership to 10 royals, most recently to Prince Charles and the Duke of Edinburgh.
David Marsh, master of the society, said: “The Merchants are honoured to present the Princess Royal with the freedom of the Society. Princess Anne is known for her extensive charitable work and her commitment to enhancing the lives of those less fortunate, very much in keeping with the Society’s own values.
“The Princess Royal has demonstrated a keen interest in greater Bristol over the years, having recently opened the M-Shed, visited the Alabaré Bristol Home for Veterans and toured and opened our own Merchants’ Academy in Withywood.”
The society comprises many of the city’s great and good, and describes itself as a group that “invests heavily in young people, education, enterprise and entrepreneurship and caring for the elderly”.
But it has faced criticism over the years, as an unaccountable organisation that exerts too much influence over the city.
The original Guild of Merchants was founded in the 13th century and by the 15th century was synonymous with the city’s administration. It funded John Cabot’s voyage of discovery to Newfoundland in 1497.
The society in its current form was established by a 1552 Royal Charter from Edward VI, granting the society a monopoly on Bristol’s sea trade. They remained in effective control of Bristol Docks until 1848.
The first royal to accept honorary membership was Prince Frederick of Wales in 1738.