Royal Charters are granted by the Queen on the advice of the Privy Council, and have a history dating back to the 13th century. Their original purpose was to create public or private corporations (including towns and cities), and to define their privileges and purpose.
Today new Charters are normally reserved for bodies that work in the public interest (such as professional institutions and charities) and which demonstrate “pre-eminence, stability and permanence in their particular field” (see http://privycouncil.independent.gov.uk/royal-charters/).
The Society’s Council considered that securing a Royal Charter would help the Learned Society by:
a) providing recognition for its charitable objectives
b) enhancing the standing of the Learned Society in working with other bodies in its provision of independent expert advice to Welsh Government and other organisations
c) promoting the work and standing of LSW as Wales’s first national academy
d) recognising the importance of celebrating scholarship and serving Wales
e) formalising the LSW role both in Wales and the UK.
A new charter and by-laws will replace the current Memorandum and Articles of Association as the governing documents of the Society. Operational matters however will be covered by the Society’s regulations.
Being granted Royal Charter does not give the Society the right to add ‘Royal’ to the title. Council in July 2015, however confirmed approval for the Society to seek Royal Title and when the time comes agreed to make the required amendments to both the Charter (as originally submitted to the Privy Council) and Ordinances to reflect the permission by the Sovereign to re- name the Society: “The Royal Society of Wales / Cymdeithas Frenhinol Cymru.”
The Royal Charter came into effect legally when the Great Seal was applied at the end of the September. The Society has begun transitioning to the new charter body and hopes to complete the transition by the end of the current Society year.