Welcome everyone and thank you for gathering here this morning.
It’s a sad day – but it is also a chance to look forward to a hopeful future, even as we look back on a cherished life.
At Lloyd’s, it’s our custom to ring the Lutine Bell once for bad news and twice for good news. Those chimes have marked events from the sinking of ships to the conclusion of conflicts and the birth of Royal babies.
Last Thursday – and again just a moment ago – the Bell rang out to mark the death of Her Majesty The Queen. Its note provided a moment for us all to remember, reflect and revere the life that offered so much comfort and inspiration to so many of us over so many years – as I’m sure it will continue to do in the years ahead.
The Queen made three official visits to Lloyd’s: in 1952, 1986 and 2014.
On that first visit – the same year as her own accession – Her Majesty charged Lloyd’s with “embodying the highest qualities of British commerce: keenness and efficiency, with a real and deep public spirit”.
We continue to embrace that responsibility today. Her words are indelibly written in our history and will be cherished by all at Lloyd’s for years to come.
But as we remember the legacy of one monarch, we also welcome the accession of another.
Later in this ceremony, the Bell will ring twice to mark the accession to the throne of His Majesty, King Charles III.
It represents the start of a new chapter in our shared history – and for Lloyd’s, a chance to recognise the beginning of another historic partnership.
And that partnership already has firm foundations, as Lloyd’s has been privileged to host His Majesty, while Prince of Wales, on several occasions – most recently, in June last year to launch the Insurance Task Force of his Sustainable Markets Initiative, which we were honoured to be invited to chair.
As His Majesty takes on the great burdens of state at this time of sadness and loss, we offer our support and condolences to him and to his family.
For our part, we will continue to carry the baton of building a braver and more sustainable future, as championed by His Majesty and charged to Lloyd’s and others through the work of his Sustainable Markets Initiative.
Our late Queen’s example reminds us that so much of leadership – and of duty – is about stewarding what we have, as well as we are able, to hand it to those that follow in a better state than we inherited it.
And we will offer our unwavering support to our new King as he continues that work into the future.
Our two monarchs have also offered us a bold model of how to reconcile ancient traditions with recent innovations.
Those who were here for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee a few short months ago may remember me saying that, in the same year Her Majesty visited us for our 325th anniversary, she also sent her first tweet to thousands of appreciative followers.
It’s a simple example of the monarchy’s willingness to adapt and to embrace change – but it represents the much deeper, unseen work of constantly evolving an organisation to meet the needs of the times.
That work is essential to renewing and refocusing the institutions that offer us constancy and reassurance in the face of uncertainty.
It is a belief that has formed the bedrock of Lloyd’s relationship with the British monarchy over the years, and that we are recognising today.
Because the ideas that last are those that are able to both celebrate and learn from the past, while reaching forward into a brighter and braver future.
It is an undertaking every one of us carries; because ultimately, institutions are built on people. People like those gathered here today; like our late Queen and our new King; and like those around the world simultaneously mourning and celebrating.
So today, we gather to mark not only the passing of a crown – but also the beginning of a new chapter in an enduring partnership.
Long may it last – and long may His Majesty reign.
I now invite Sheila Cameron, Chief Executive of the London Market Association, to read a poem of reflection.