A Royal Charter of Incorporation is a governance document that forms a new corporate body and provides for its regulation. A Royal Charter is permanent and may only be withdrawn by the Crown through due legal process.
A Royal Charter is the gold standard of official recognition of an incorporated body by the Crown. Royal Charters are rarely granted (circa 1,000 since the Norman Conquest) and in modern times they are generally reserved for universities, learned societies, professional bodies and Livery Companies. As such the principal benefit of a Royal Charter is that of the prestige that comes with the imprimatur of the state expressed through the authority of the Sovereign. A Royal Charter is not easily granted, and neither should it be so. The formation of a Royal Charter company creates a legal entity which is separate from the members and hence may sue and be sued, own and sell property, without the members being liable in any way.
The following guidance was written by the Aldermen and Magistracy Sub-Committee.
There are in excess of 900 Chartered Bodies. A Royal Charter is a way of incorporating a body, that is turning it from a collection of individuals into a single legal entity. A body incorporated by Royal Charter has all the powers of a natural person, including the power to sue and be sued in its own right. Royal Charters were at one time the only means of incorporating a body, but there are now other means (becoming a registered company, for example), so the grant of new Charters is comparatively rare. New grants of Royal Charters are these days reserved for eminent professional bodies or charities which have a solid record of achievement and are financially sound. In the case of professional bodies they should represent a field of activity which is unique and not covered by other professional bodies…
You can download the full guidance here.
The Livery Committee acknowledges this content from The City of London Freeman’s Guide published by Paul D Jagger.