British World War II veteran Tom Moore, who has become a national hero after raising more than $60 million for the National Health Service, has been awarded the ancient honour of the freedom of the City of London.
Captain Moore, 100, struck a chord with locked-down Britain by walking laps of his garden with the help of a walking frame to raise almost £33 million ($63 million) for the NHS.
His endeavour spread joy amid the grim news of the coronavirus outbreak.
On Tuesday, in a bizarre online ceremony, Captain Moore, wearing his war medals, was awarded the freedom of the City of London. The award was presented by chamberlain Peter Kane, wearing an ermine-trimmed gown, and the Lord Mayor, who wore a tricorne hat trimmed with black ostrich feathers.
“Today we are paying tribute to a very special man,” said Mr Kane.
“Just an incredible achievement – we could run out of adjectives trying to describe this.”
The freedom of the City of London dates back to 1237 and signifies the holder is not owned by a feudal lord and has to right to trade in the heart of London’s ancient core.
Captain Moore, who was raised in Yorkshire, northern England, swore an oath to be “good and true to our Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth the Second” and to keep “the Queen’s Peace”.
He signed the freedom declaration with a wave of the pen and thanked the chamberlain for being given the “rules for the conduct of life”, which date from the mid-18th century.
He was given a detailed history of his privileges as London’s “youngest freeman”.
Captain Moore was toasted with what appeared to be a glass of champagne.
He smiled when told the ancient privileges included being hanged with silk – rather than hemp – and the right to wander the city with his sword drawn.
“Captain Tom, you raised the spirits of people across the country. You showed us all the importance of community spirit and brought people together during this difficult time,” Lord Mayor William Russell said.
The City of London traces its ancient rights to beyond the Norman Conquest of 1066, when the crucible of trade and commerce was formally granted freedoms and privileges that had developed during the dawn of English history.
The honour is the latest bestowed on Captain Moore.
For the veteran’s 100th birthday in April, the Queen agreed he should be made an honorary colonel. He was also made an honorary member of the England cricket team and given a flypast by the Royal Air Force.