A historic charter was presented to Dr. John Hall, the Dean of Westminster Abbey, on Feb. 17, by Queen Elizabeth II. The Charter details how the Abbey should be governed on a day-to-day basis and was handed over at a private ceremony in Buckingham Palace.
The Westminster Abbey was found at the time of Mellitus, a former Bishop of England. The Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth I, issued in 1950, established the Abbey as a collegiate church governed by the Dean and Chapter of Ministers.
However, in a moment of oversight, the Queen forgot to sign the various drafts of the statutes. In addition, no subsequent monarch also ever signed the drafts. Meaning they had no legal authority.
Since then, according to a Press Association (PA) report, the Abbey has been governed by custom and the authority of Royal Letters issued over centuries.
"This is a significant moment in the history of Westminster Abbey. After four and a half centuries we have finally been able to put the Abbey's statutes on to a proper basis. Over the last 10 years much work has gone into the complex process of bringing together and updating the Abbey's statutes so that they properly represent the present governance of the Collegiate Church. That task has now been completed. It is particularly pleasing that all this has been achieved in Her Majesty's Jubilee Year," Sir Stephen Lamport, receiver-general of Westminster Abbey, was quoted as saying in the PA report.
The charter (known as a Supplemental Order) will make the statutes legal for the first time in history.