The Freedom of the City of London can be gained through being proposed by one of the City’s Livery Companies or by direct application supported by a suitably qualified proposer and seconder. A limited number of Freemen are admitted each year by the Clerk to the Chamberlain of the City of London during a ceremony at Guildhall. A certificate is presented to the recipient together with a book entitled “Rules for the Conduct of Life”.
Although the Freedom is neither an honour nor an award (except on those rare occasions when it is conferred as the Honorary Freedom), the majority of recipients are men and women who are well established in their chosen field, some of whom have achieved success, celebrity or public recognition.
There is a number of historic privileges attached to the Freedom, most of which are apocryphal, including the right to be hanged by a silken cord if convicted of a capital offence and to carry a naked sword in public. The only privilege that is regularly exercised today is the right to drive sheep over London Bridge, which has been done on a number of occasions to raise funds for charity.
The designation “citizen and musician” on the certificate signifies that I was proposed for the Freedom by the Worshipful Company of Musicians. I was admitted to the Freedom of the Company on 12 July 2000 and promoted to Liveryman on 9 October 2002.