Queen Visits Bank of England Gold Vaults Posted by Adam King on December 14, 2012
Yesterday the Queen of England visited one of the most secret vaults in Britain as the Bank of England opened. The reigning monarch’s likeness appears on the currency and bullion minted by the bank, making the bank’s policy of restricting access to someone who is neither an employee nor a member of its security team null.
During the official visit to the headquarters of the bank on Threadneedle Street in the City of London, the Queen and Prince Philip were shown the Bank of England’s underground gold store.
Bars of gold bullion are stacked on warehouse shelves, accounting for 400,000 gold bars in eight vaults spread over two floors underground.
An eccentric professor of chemistry from Nottingham University managed to talk his way past security and joined the official visit. He said it’s enormously impressive.
Professor Martyn Poliakoff also remarked saying one’s first reaction is that it can’t possibly be real because normally you don’t see such things. He noted it looks like chocolates in the duty free at the airport. But, he continued, these really are solid gold bars and it is quite extraordinary.
With the first major gold coin in Britain being the florin, issued in 1284 during the reign of Edward I, gold has been a part of Britain’s history. In 1700, Sir Isaac Newton, then Master of the Mint, fixed the price of gold and in the following century gold gradually took silver’s place in the English monetary system as the chief medium of exchange and the standard of value.
A gold standard was officially established in Great Britain in 1816, meaning the pound was defined in terms of a fixed quantity of gold and paper money was could be converted to gold on demand. Thus the responsibility was given to the Bank of England to act as the guardian of the nation’s gold reserves and the Act of 1844 stipulated the volume its banknotes in circulation had to be strictly related to its stock of gold.
Regarding the 2008 financial crisis, the queen asked a group of economists why nobody noticed. Additionally, regarding management of the finances, the queen asked whether people had gotten a bit lax. The response was mixed from staff but generally in the affirmative.
Finally, the Queen suggested the Financial Services Authority was not aggressive in its policing, a comment on the regulation in markets. The Queen said it was really quite new and it didn’t have any teeth.
The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip said don’t do it again.