A FACSIMILE of one of the rarest and arguably the most important documents in English history, Magna Carta, will be displayed on board Cunard’s Southampton-based ships Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria this year.

This is part of a number of special events to mark the 800th anniversary of King John sealing the “Great Charter” back in 1215.

As the shipping line continues to celebrate its 175th anniversary year, Salisbury Cathedral will be lending a rare facsimile of its Magna Carta, one of only four of the original documents in existence, to Cunard.

The facsimile will be displayed in the Grand Lobby of QM2 from early May until September, with a short stay aboard Queen Victoria in late May.

Cunard and the Magna Carta share some interesting history.

During the Second World War, the Lincoln Magna Carta, one of the four originals, was moved to Washington DC for safe-keeping. In January 1946 it began its journey home, first to New York and then on board the original Queen Elizabeth for the voyage to Southampton.

The ship’s captain, Commodore Sir James Bisset, kept the metal box containing the precious document in the safest place he could think of for the duration of the crossing – under his bed!

Robert Key, chairman of the cathedral’s 2015 Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Board, will be escorting the copy of Salisbury’s Magna Carta during crossings aboard QM2 on May 10-17 and September 4-11 2015, and aboard Queen Victoria’s voyage from May 22-28.

Robert will hold two talks on each voyage about the legacy of the Magna Carta, and the profound effect it had in shaping the world as we know it today.

The Magna Carta was a series of written promises between the king and his subjects that he, the king, would govern England and deal with its people according to the customs of feudal law.

Daily Echo:

The document will be displayed aboard Queen Mary 2

The Magna Carta was an attempt by the barons to stop a king abusing his power and causing suffering to the people of England.

Robert explained the significance of the partnership between the Magna Carta and Cunard.

“I, and Salisbury Cathedral, are delighted to be working with Cunard as we celebrate the Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary by loaning a very rare facsimile of the document,”said Robert.

“The impact of the Magna Carta was not only felt ashore, but in these lectures we have a golden opportunity to explain and explore those fundamental freedoms that give Cunard ships the right to sail the seven seas – rights that we won 800 years ago and for which people the world over are still prepared to fight and to die.”