Important Recognition of H.G. Prof. George Popper in London - Guildhall 21.11.2008

On the 21st of November, 2008 at 10.30 H. G. Prof.George Popper – Lieutenant General of Federation of the Autonomous Priories - Knights of Malta, Executive Grand Chancellor of Knights of Cyprus and his wife Lady Anna Popper – received the title of “Freeman of the City of London” in the Ceremonial Guildhall in London. This title is an “Honorary” one. The ceremony was intimately arranged.

One year ago, two Freemen recommended, Professor Popper and his wife to receive this honorary title. The nominees had to submit detailed information with identification in person with the two Freemen who recommended them for this Honour. With this information the proper petition was made for Prof. Popper as well as for his wife to receive the title. After a required contemplation time the Chamberlain made the positive decision about issuing this title, which has been in existence for more than 700 years.

The progression of the event according to the participants:

The atmosphere of the Ceremony was intimate just as it has been since the 13th century. The Guildhall Chamberlains' Court’s door opened and the Clerk – who led the Ceremony – came out. He is the 37th man who has held this important title since 1291. The Clerk, who wore a solemn black coat with a big smile, greeted us and escorted us to the Ceremonial Chamber. The Chamber’s walls were covered with historical documents, paintings and other things. After the opening greetings and statements the Clerk gave the words of the Oath to us that we had to say out loud. We gave our Oaths to Queen Elisabeth the II. and then proceeded to sign the Freeman Book to which our names were already added. After that we received the framed, strange shaped, long, narrow diploma that also included a small red case. The small red case was used by the earlier Freemen as a form of identification which everybody recognized once the Freeman pulled it out. The Freeman’s actual identification was in this red case. Also after the presentation of the diploma we were told the historical meaning of the Organization and Freeman title, past and present.

It was interesting to learn that this title was only bestowed upon the English, and the citizens of the British Commonwealth up until 1999. Non-British citizens have only been able to receive this title for 9 years. There are normal citizens as well as famous people and people of high status, who have received this title. All of the British Royal Family including Princess Diana, the Danish Queen as well as all the British Prime Ministers have this title. We saw pictures of famous people, who also have this title such as: Luciano Pavarotti, Helmuth Kohl, Nelson Mandela and R. Murdock. The Hungarian Ambassador to London witnessed the initiation of Otto von Habsburg in 2007.

The thing that surprised us the most was something the Clerk read to us out of an old thick book, it was a one and a half page long story of the initiation of Kossuth Lajos into the Freemans in 1851. As we listened to the story, we were speechless. This attentiveness was completely unexpected. As we learnt from the reading, Kossuth Lajos received the honorary title “Citizen of London” from London City as an Emigrant, Revolutionist and Hero. We were very honoured that we received this honorary title from a person with great historical knowledge. We had a long conversation in which we discussed many topics like the Battle of Mohacs, the Revolution in 1848, Tokaj Wine and others. Pictures were taken of the Ceremony and of the historical documents. One of our sponsors pinned the Freeman Badge next to the Cross of Malta. After the congratulations, we received another surprise – a red bound book with the title “Rules for the Conduct of Life” from the Chamberlains Clerk. The book contained rules from 300 years ago that a Freeman lived by. These rules covered living-life, behaviour, way of thinking and ethics. The author suggests 36 rules that would make us worthy of the title “Freeman of the City of London” in the future.

We left the Guildhall with prideful and pleasurable feelings. We were convinced again of how important the continuation of the traditions in the life of a nation even in the storms of history and life’s calm times.

It was a tragic fact in this elevating and joyful event that one of our sponsors, Sir Dr Karászy-Kulin János (General) did not live to see the initiation. With his untimely passing the last living Hungarian Freeman unfortunately died. His widow, Lady Iris took part in the ceremony.