The Delegate for Great Britain and Ireland of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George, Sir Anthony Bailey, KGCN, OBE, hosted a Banquet in honour of His Excellency Mr János Áder, President of the Republic of Hungary and the Grand Master of the Constantinian Order, His Royal Highness Prince Charles of Bourbon Two Sicilies, Duke of Castro.
The Banquet was held to mark the historic pilgrimage from Hungary to the United Kingdom of the relics of Saint and Martyr Thomas à Becket after being kept with great reverence in Esztergom, Hungary for over 800 years. The Banquet took place on 24 May 2016 at Drapers’ Hall in the City of London in the presence of over 300 distinguished guests from across the world.
The Banquet was attended by HE Dr Anita Herczegh, First Lady of Hungary, HRH Princess Camilla of Bourbon Two Sicilies, Duchess of Castro, TRH The Duke and Duchess of Braganza from Portugal, TRH Prince Louis and Princess Tessy of Luxembourg, HSH Princess Marie-Therese von Hohenberg, Lady Bailey and TSH Prince and Princess Pierre D’Arenberg.
The principal religious guests of honour included Their Eminences Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Primate of Hungary and President of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster and Prior of the Order’s Delegation in Great Britain and Ireland, the Rt Rev and Rt Hon Lord Carey of Clifton, 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury and the Rt Rev Hlib Lonchyna, Eparchial Bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Holy Family of London.
The Rt Hon Oliver Letwin, MP, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and member of the UK Cabinet attended representing the British Prime Minister, Rt Hon David Cameron MP.
Among others attending were the Earl and Countess of Erroll, Lord and Lady Northbrook, Lord Watson of Richmond, Sir Christian and Lady Sweeting, the High Sheriff for Bedfordshire Mr Charles Whitbread, Sir Roger Fry and Mr Andrew Rosindell, MP.
From among the diplomatic corps were the High Commissioner for Grenada and the Ambassadors of Argentina, Bolivia, Equatorial Guinea, Kosovo, Hungary, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Venezuela and The Rt Rev Mgr Vincent Brady, Private Secretary to HE The Apostolic Nuncio to the Court of St James’s.
Among others City of London figures attending were Alderman and Mrs John Garbutt, the masters of several Worshipful Companies of the City of London including Master Fan Makers, Master Coopers, Master Brewers, Master Parish Clerks and Master Lightmongers.
Mr René Kalt, Guild-Master of Zurich, Switzerland, were among other religious, civic, livery and diplomatic representatives. The President of Hungary’s delegation included HE Mr Péter Szabadhegy, Ambassador of Hungary to the Court of St James’s, Mrs Gabriella Kereszty, Mrs Anita Ajtornyai, Dr László Szöke, Brigadier General László Szegö, Dr Júlia Strek, Dr Mária Ádám Haszonicsné, Dr Maria Vass-Salazar and Ms Orsolya Klinghammer.
Council and delegation members of the Order who attended the Banquet were Vice Delegate for Wales, Lord Murphy of Torfaen, Professor The Lord Alton of Liverpool, Lord Lingfield, Lord and Lady Brennan of Bibury, Sir Cyril and Lady Woods, Sir Nadhmi Auchi, The Hon Alexander Brennan, Mr D’Arcy Myers, Prince Don Cristoforo Rocco di Torrepadula, Mr Rory More O’Ferrall, Sir Ewan Harper, Dr Donal Lydon, Mr Kevin Hart, Mr James Drabble, Mrs Elizabeth Thornborough, Mr Joseph Byllam-Barnes, Mr Kevin Grant, Mr Vivian Wineman, The Very Rev Canon Peter Newby, Mr John Gvozdenovic Kennedy, Mrs Joyce Parsons, Mr Norman Gooding, Mr John McIntosh, Mr Albert Roux, Miss Anna Hodson-Pressinger, Mr Andrew Rogers, Professor Trond Beravale, Mr Anthony McGorrian, The Rev Fr Michael Seed, Professor Sarah Rogers and Dr Xhoana Papakostandini.
The opening prayer was given by His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and Grace after Meal was given by His Eminence Cardinal Péter Erdő.
The Toast to The Queen was proposed by the Delegate, Sir Anthony Bailey, who also read a message received from Her Majesty addressed to the Delegation of Great Britain and Ireland of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George.
The Toast to The Royal Family was proposed by The Lord Lingfield. HRH The Duke of Castro proposed the Toast to The President of Hungary and the Vice-Delegate for Wales The Rt Hon Lord Murphy of Torfaen proposed the toast to the Sovereigns and other Heads of State represented during the evening.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, The Rt Hon Oliver Letwin, MP, read a message sent by the Prime Minister, Rt Hon David Cameron MP, celebrating this historic pilgrimage of the relic of St Thomas Becket, highlighting the British – Hungarian ties, our common heritage and beliefs.
The Prime Minister also paid tribute to the Constantinian Order and its Delegate for their remarkable charitable and inter-faith work. In his message, the Prime Minister said: “I would like to thank Sir Anthony Bailey and the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George for hosting tonight’s event, and pay tribute to their long and worthy track record in promoting charitable and inter-faith work in both our countries.”
In his welcome speech Delegate Sir Anthony Bailey said: “I would like to pay tribute to the Church of England and to the Roman Catholic Churches in Britain and Hungary for making this pilgrimage possible. I particulary wish to salute most warmly all those who have made this possible including Their Eminences Cardinal Péter Erdő of Esztergom-Budapest, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster and Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury.
“Events like today’s offer an opportunity to reflect on our common history and serve as a reminder that European unity has proved to be a powerful force and has the power to overcome divides.”
The Constantinian Order has a long association with Hungary and was formally recognised by the Hungarian Government by decree of the President of the Republic in 2011. During the evening the Hungarian Head of State was invested by the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Castro as a Knight Grand Cross with Gold Star within the Special Category of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George.
President Áder said: “Tonight, in front of such a prestigious gathering, I represent my country which has much in common with Britain. Both our nations are proud of their traditions and firmly believe that our past is not only history but most importantly is fundamental to our strength, courage, and vision for the future.
“In 1956, some 60 years ago the Hungarians started the revolution against the communist dictatorship to protect one of the core value of Europe, its Freedom. In this battle of “unequals”, Hungary could not win, but the nation set a good example that fighting for a great cause is always necessary and noble.”
The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Archbishop emeritus of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton also spoke, the latter stating that at a time when we require models of faith who dare to stand up to injustice, St Thomas is ‘a fitting ecumenical model’.
The Company of Pikemen & Musketeers were in attendance and offered the ceremonial guard of honour throughout the evening.
The week-long pilgrimage was formally commenced with Vespers and a Solemn Mass celebrated by Cardinal Péter Erdő and Cardinal Vincent Nichols at Westminster Cathedral in London on Monday 23 May 2016, The President and First Lady of Hungary, TRH The Duke and Duchess of Castro and Delegate Sir Anthony Bailey and HSH Princess Marie-Therese von Hohenberg, Lady Bailey, were among those present.
Among other council and delegation members of the Constantinian Order who attended the Mass, some of whom processed in the mantle capes of the Order included Vice-Delegate for Wales The Rt Hon Lord Murphy of Torfaen, The Hon Alexander Brennan, Mr Rory More O’Ferrall, Prince Don Cristoforo Rocco di Torrepadula, Professor The Lord Alton of Liverpool, HE Dr R. Carlos Sersale di Cerisano, Ambassador of Argentina, HE Mr Witold Sobkow, Ambassador of Poland, Professor Ing Giovanni Chersola, Delegate to Liguria, Miss Anna Hodson-Pressinger, Mr John Cowdall, Mr Kevin Hart, Mr Kevin Grant and Mr John McIntosh.
The relic of St Thomas Becket from Esztergom will travel across Britain between 23 – 29 May 2016 and will be venerated together with other relics of St Thomas at Westminster Abbey, the chapel of Houses of Parliament, Lambeth Palace, Mercer’s Chapel, Rochester Cathedral and to Canterbury Cathedral.