Hereford Cathedral’s 1217 Magna Carta, which has been on a global tour, touched down back at Heathrow with British Airways last Monday, according to a British Airways press release.
To celebrate 800 years since the charter was first sealed, one of only 24 original versions has been globe-trotting with the airline and the GREAT Britain Campaign, racking up an impressive 37,000 miles in less than three months.
The Magna Carta embarked on its world tour on September 21 when it flew in First with British Airways to New York.
Since then it has been viewed by thousands of people in Luxembourg, China, Singapore and Malta before its final stop in Lisbon.
The Magna Carta established the principle that everybody, including the sovereign, was subject to the law. It is today recognised by thousands of people across the world as a symbol of democracy.
Captain Neil Hunter, who operated the flight from Lisbon to Heathrow, said “Flying the Magna Carta home from its global tour was a real honour. Its influence has already travelled the world, but this is the first time it has physically flown quite so far.”
The document tops the list of unusual and unexpected items that the airline has been entrusted with flying around the world. Previously British Airways has flown:
The Olympic Flame
As official sponsor of the 2012 London Olympic Games, British Airways flew the Olympic Flame from Athens to London on board flight ‘BA2012’ a specially chartered, gold-liveried aircraft. The Flame travelled in a ceremonial lantern secured in a specially designed cradle firmly fixed to its seat on the plane.
12 endangered San Salvador Iguanas
British Airways flew 12 endangered San Salvador Rock iguanas back to their home in the Bahamas. The iguanas play a critical role in the local ecosystem and are vital to maintaining biological diversity in the rural communities they inhabit. The delicate cargo had special dispensation to fly in the cabin for the flight and were carefully looked after by British Airways pilots and crew.
The Rugby World Cup Trophy
Hosts England unfortunately had an early exit at this years’ Rugby World Cup, but back in 2003 the England Rugby team returned victorious from Australia. As champions they travelled back home on a British Airways flight from Sydney to London, with the Webb Ellis Trophy in a seat of its very own.
A lost cuckoo
An endangered cuckoo who missed her summer migration due to injury, was given a helping hand with her journey by British Airways. The injured cuckoo was found in a garden in Surrey and was unable to fly after being attacked by other birds. After a period of recovery at the Wildlife Aid Foundation’s (WAF) veterinary hospital in Leatherhead, British Airways flew her to Italy so she could catch up with the rest of the cuckoos on their summer migration down to South Africa.
British Airways flew a rare Bengal Slow Loris from the Maldives where it was confiscated during a drugs raid by local police, to the UK to start a new life in a rescue centre dedicated to conserving endangered animals. The VIP (very important primate) flew at speeds of over 500 mph on his way from the Maldives to London, for once not such a Slow Loris.
Photo: BA crew members with the 800-year-old Magna Carta on board. Photograph from British Airways