Royal Charter
A royal charter is a formal document issued by a monarch
A monarch is the person who heads a monarchy. This is a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled or controlled by an individual who typically inherits the throne by birth and occasionally rules for life or until abdication...

 as letters patent
Letters patent
Letters patent are a type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order issued by a monarch or president, generally granting an office, right, monopoly, title, or status to a person or corporation...

, granting a right or power to an individual or a body corporate. They were, and are still, used to establish significant organizations such as cities
A city is a relatively large and permanent settlement. Although there is no agreement on how a city is distinguished from a town within general English language meanings, many cities have a particular administrative, legal, or historical status based on local law.For example, in the U.S...

 or universities
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

. Charters should be distinguished from warrants
Warrant (law)
Most often, the term warrant refers to a specific type of authorization; a writ issued by a competent officer, usually a judge or magistrate, which permits an otherwise illegal act that would violate individual rights and affords the person executing the writ protection from damages if the act is...

 and letters of appointment, as they have perpetual effect. Typically, a royal charter is produced as a high-quality work of calligraphy
Calligraphy is a type of visual art. It is often called the art of fancy lettering . A contemporary definition of calligraphic practice is "the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious and skillful manner"...


Charters have been used in Europe since mediæval times to create cities (i.e., localities with recognised legal rights and privileges).

1194    King Richard I of England gives Portsmouth its first Royal Charter.

1554    A royal Charter is granted to Derby School in Derby, England.

1629    The Massachusetts Bay Colony is granted a Royal charter.

1663    Charles II of England grants John Clarke a Royal Charter to Rhode Island.

1694    A Royal Charter is granted to the Bank of England.

1732    James Oglethorpe is granted a royal charter for the colony of Georgia.

1899    The St. Andrew's Ambulance Association is granted a Royal Charter by Queen Victoria.

1912    The Scout Association is incorporated throughout the British Commonwealth by Royal Charter.

1917    The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is established through Royal Charter to mark, record and maintain the graves and places of commemoration of Commonwealth of Nations military forces.