15 September 2016
Mark Rylance will be given the honour of The Freedom of the City of London at a fundraising event for the British Red Cross.
The Oscar-winning actor will be given the honour in front of his friends and family at a ceremony at London’s Guildhall on Thursday 27 October. The presentation will be followed by a celebration dinner and tribute to the actor from friends.
Among those performing will be renowned counter-tenor Iestyn Davies, Mark’s co-star in the recent West End hit Farinelli and the King.
The Freedom of the City of London is a traditional ceremony believed to have been first performed in 1237.
It historically provided trading rights and is alleged to have included privileges such as the right to go about the city with a drawn sword. There are no such privileges associated with the award today but the honour is the highest the City of London can bestow.
Honouring a humanitarian
Mark Rylance was nominated for the award by the British Red Cross International Fundraising Committee in recognition of his distinguished career and his humanitarianism.
Mark is a patron of the NGO Peace Direct and has been campaigning this summer for Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights.
Mark said: “I am honoured to receive this oldest of surviving traditions, The Freedom of the City of London, and thank the British Red Cross for their recognition of my continuing work for peace and humanity.”
Maria Shammas MBE, chairman of the Red Cross committee, said: “The British Red Cross is delighted to be paying tribute to one of the country’s greatest actors and a true humanitarian.
“It will be a wonderful evening where we will be joined by family and friends of Mark Rylance to honour him, whilst raising money for the vital work of the British Red Cross.”
Mark won an Academy Award and BAFTA this year for his role in Bridge of Spies and is currently starring in Steven Spielberg’s film version of The BFG.
The Red Cross has previously nominated Stephen Fry, Annie Lennox and the late Luciano Pavarotti to receive the honour.