During the twentieth century the ties between the Royal Family and Lloyd’s grew stronger. Every monarch has visited each of Lloyd’s buildings. The Queen Mother maintained particularly close links with the Lloyd’scommunity and in 1974 she accepted honorary membership of the Society of Lloyd’s.
On 23 May 1925 King George V, accompanied by Queen Mary and Prince Henry, laid the foundation stone of the new building, designed by Sir Edwin Cooper.
The Chairman of Lloyd’s, Mr. Percy G. Mackinnon, spoke about Lloyd’s long ties to the Royal Family and armed forces:
Doubtless there came to Lloyd’s Coffee-House the most famous Clerk of the King’s ships, Samuel Pepys, in order to obtain, and sometimes, to give information and thus began that relationship between the Royal Navy and Lloyd’s which has subsisted to the present day.
In reply, George V highlighted Lloyd’s international history:
The history of the Corporation is the embodiment of the highest qualities of British Commerce. Lloyd’s policy has never been a one-sided pursuit of gain, but a combination of keenness and efficiency in business with a real and deep public spirit.
It would, however, give an imperfect view of the scope and effect of your work were no mention made of its international character; your world-wide organisations and influence have always been at the disposal of all maritime peoples who are in peace and amity with the British Empire.
The first visit of our current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, took place months after her accession in 1952 and before her coronation the following year in 1953. The visit took place at the unusual hour of 10pm, and the Room was packed with dignitaries, including the Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill. Queen Elizabeth was accompanied by her husband, The Duke of Edinburgh, which she referred to in her speech:
As the wife and daughter of a sailor I am proud to pay tribute to the invaluable services which over the centuries the members of your Corporation, like those underwriters who formed a close link with the sea captains of two hundred and fifty years ago, have rendered to the Merchant Navy and the fishing fleets in peace and war and to the close connection between Lloyd’s and the Royal Navy in time of war.
I congratulate you on this new venture, and it will give me great pleasure to lay the foundation stone of your new building.
Accompanied by H R H Princess Margaret, The Queen Mother made a warm address at the opening of the 1958 building. Her comments referred to the innovation, for which Lloyd’s is still well-known today:
Fire, wars, and failures, have all, in their turn, been faced and conquered; new methods have matched new experience; wholly fresh fields of activity have been grafted upon the marine business, which for long comprised the only risks written, until today there seems nothing which cannot be insured at Lloyd’s.
In the words of the then Chairman, Paul Dixey, honorary membership was offered to The Queen Mother in recognition of Her Majesty’s outstanding services to our country.
In December 1974 The Queen Mother visited Lloyd’s again, touring the underwriting Room, spending longer than expected talking to underwriters, brokers and administrative staff alike.
The Queen Mother’s affection for Lloyd’s was clear, when in 1979 she returned to Lloyd’s again, this time to preside over the opening of Lloyd’s administrative offices in Chatham, Kent.
She spent so long chatting with members of staff that her helicopter, taking her back to London, took off late.
Ian Findlay, Chairman of Lloyd’s said: In agreeing to open this building, you give great pleasure not only to those of us here today but also to a wider community, in Lloyd’s and in Medway.
In 1981 The Queen Mother commemorated the start of construction of the current building, pulling a lever which sent half a ton of concrete cascading to form a section of the column which stands beside the main entrance. She observed:
You will also bring to the City a building over which her citizens may well argue but of which, I am confident, they will have cause to be very proud.
Three years later in 1984, The Queen Mother returned to Lloyd’s for the ‘topping-out’ ceremony. She watched the final concrete slab being lowered into place in position above a time capsule, which she had sealed into the roof. She then returned to the underwriting Room to greet the 500 guests celebrating the occasion.
It is said that she remarked: It’s so nice to see so many old friends again.
The new Lloyd’s building at One Lime Street, designed by Richard Rogers, was officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen in 1986, five years after her mother had laid the first foundation stone – a reversal of their roles in relation to the 1958 building.
The grade I listed building, with its pipes, lifts and ‘pods’ presented on the outside, took Lloyd’s, and London, into a new and futuristic world. At the time the architecture was a complete departure from traditional design and was ground breaking in its style. But, now surrounded by modern buildings, Lloyd’s fits in comfortably with the rest of the City skyline.
During the twenty-first century, Lloyd’s has continued to enjoy support from the Royal Family. In 2005 Prince William completed a work placement hosted by HSBC. The placement included visits to the Bank of England, the London Stock Exchange, Lloyd’s of London and even Billingsgate Fish Market!
During a day at Lloyd’s, Prince William was shown by Hiscox how the firm underwrites risk, with examples ranging from sporting events to fine art.
Richard Ward, Lloyd’s former Chief Executive, described welcoming Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall to Lloyd’s as one of his most memorable meetings during his Lloyd’s career.
On 23 July 2013 the Lloyd’s market gathered to witness the ringing of the Lutine Bell. The Bell was rung to celebrate the birth of Prince George, the first child of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The Lutine Bell, which hangs in the centre of the underwriting Room, is traditionally rung to herald important announcements, one stroke for bad news and two for good. It has only been rung once before for a birth, that of Prince Andrew in 1960, when the waiter made a five word announcement:
Gentlemen. The Queen. A boy.
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh visit Lloyd’s Underwriting Room to unveil a plaque commemorating the market’s 325th anniversary.
Lloyd’s staff, underwriters, brokers and members gathered in the Underwriting Room to greet Her Majesty with a resounding cheer. Lloyd’s chairman John Nelson and Chief Executive Inga Beale led the Royal Party into the Room, and Lloyd’s famous Lutine Bell was rung twice to mark the occasion.
The Royal Party met representatives from the London market, Lloyd’s Community Programme, Lloyd’s Charities Trust and Lloyd’s Patriotic Trust.
Following the visit, the Royal Party attended a private luncheon with the Council and Franchise Board.