This is the first column that I will write in the newly-titled Royal Sutton Coldfield Observer – a title that recognises the achievement of the town in reasserting its Royal Status, as announced by Cabinet Minister Greg Clark in the Chamber of the House of Commons earlier this month.
This is a victory for the entire town. The public reception of the news has been overwhelming – eclipsed only by the enthusiasm of Suttonians during the campaign itself. No stone was left unturned in the quest for evidence of our Royal origins, both by this newspaper, particularly the work of journalist Elise Chamberlain and Editor Gary Phelps, but also by residents who searched through their attics and archives for carefully preserved relics of the Royal Town.
In 2011 Wootton Bassett became the first town in more than a century to be given a Royal title, in recognition of its unique place in many British hearts, and in gratitude to the local people.
The story of how the other two Royal towns received there Royal title bears a strong resemblance to Sutton Coldfield’s claim. Royal Tunbridge Wells and Royal Leamington Spa both petitioned for their Royal status on the basis of their history and royal patronage of their leisure activities. These were granted in 1909 and 1838 respectively. Of course, Sutton Coldfield had garnered royal favour some three centuries previously, offering Henry VIII respite from the trials of governing the realm with its famous deer park and beautiful surroundings.
The common element between all of these towns is their great sense of pride in their links to the Crown. We have a unique system of governance in Britain which I believe is something we can be proud of. However, the conferral of Royal status has a more practical dimension to it for Sutton Coldfield.
Sutton Coldfield has long fought to preserve its individual identity while remaining part of Birmingham for local government purposes. This announcement cements our individuality and will go a long way to preserving the Town’s unique character in the years to come. The Annual Civic Service last Sunday provided an excellent reminder of the fantastic sense of community in Sutton Coldfield, and it is both a testament to this and recognition of it that is embodied in Sutton’s Royal status.