Lloyd's: A royal history
Thu 31 May 2012
In 1897, Great Britain celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. 115 years later, we prepare to celebrate another Diamond Jubilee for the only other monarch in the history of the UK, HM The Queen Elizabeth II, to mark the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne.
Looking back through the Lloyd’s archives reveals the market’s long history of insuring risks associated with Royalty. It also reveals a number of surprises including a ‘Lloyd’s Diamond Jubilee Commemoration’ booklet from 21 June 1897.
This was for an event where Lloyd’s held a “…humble and dutiful Address presented from the ancient Corporation of Lloyd’s to her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen on the completion of the 60th year of her glorious and prosperous reign”.
In the year of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, Lloyd’s underwriters insured the jewels of a visiting Indian Maharajah for £200,000 and also a charitable scheme supported by the then Prince of Wales Edward VII. The policy paid a claim of £16,000 when the scheme to sell £50,000 “hospital stamps” failed to reach expectations after postal authorities refused to postmark the unofficial stamps.
A menu of silk
Queen Victoria was also the subject of a policy against the risk of Queen Victoria having twins at her first child bearing. The identity of the policyholder remains a mystery. A menu printed on silk for Queen Victoria’s opening of Lloyd’s Rooms at the Royal Exchange on 28 October 1844 can be found in the archives alongside an invitation to the chairman of Lloyd’s to attend the Coronation of King George V at Westminster Abbey in 1911. Both would later open the Lloyd’s 1928 building in Leadenhall Street.
According to the archives, large amounts of insurance were purchased from Lloyd’s underwriters by owners of property or sites along the procession route. The insurance covered the risk of postponement or any change in route, covering individuals for the loss of revenue from selling seats and stalls.
Celebration, coronation and cancellation
The Silver Jubilee of George V in 1935 was also said to have given rise to much insurance at Lloyd’s. Policies covered cancellation of the celebrations due to rain and legal liabilities from the collapse of stands and accidents.
The 1936 Coronation of the then unmarried Edward VIII provided more business for the market. A Lloyd’s underwriting member, Colonel Sandeman, told the House of Commons that insurance had been sought against the marriage of Edward in the run up to his coronation.
A well-known manufacturer of mugs wanted to insure against the cost of manufacturing commemorative coronation mugs with the two heads rather than the one. If a marriage took place before the coronation two portraits would be necessary on the mugs instead of one. And this would mean that all the expenditure would be wasted. Edward VIII, later the Duke of Windsor, was never crowned, as he abdicated to marry the divorcee Wallis Simpson. It is not recorded if the claim was paid.
Ringing for the Royals
The Lutine Bell at Lloyd’s has been rung for various royal visits. The Queen is one of the few people who have visited Lloyd’s last three buildings. One of her duties , in the year of her Coronation, was to lay the foundation for the 1958 building when she was accompanied by Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
The Diamond Jubilee at the close of the century has been regarded as a turning point in British history. It was also a turning point in the history of Lloyd’s. In 1900, whether the members of Lloyd’s knew it or not, they were on the threshold of a new era – one of recovery, improved security, expansion and changing risks from ships to planes. Over a hundred years later, we congratulate HM The Queen on her Diamond Jubilee and thank her for many years of support to Lloyd’s.
All photos taken from the Lloyd's collection.