Whenever the Mayor is carrying out an official duty, he/she wears the Chain of Office. It consists of 17 links, which are silver gilt, together with two coats of arms. Each link carries the name of a former Mayor on the front; the reverse is inscribed with the name of the Mayoress or escort, and a few words about the most significant event of the Mayor’s year.
Every year, a new link is added with the previous Mayor’s name. The chain used to get longer and longer, until in the 1920’s it went three times around the Mayor’s neck and became very heavy. Since then the oldest link has been taken off each year and displayed in the Mayor’s Parlour.
In 1897, Queen Victoria sent a badge of the Royal Coat of Arms to every Mayor in England, to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee - the completion of 60 years as Queen. The badge should have been returned the next year, but Reading failed do so. When Queen Elizabeth ll and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Reading’s new Civic Centre in 1978, the Duke noticed the badge and enquired why it was still in our possession. Permission had to be sought to keep the badge, and was subsequently granted - Reading’s chain is the only one in the country now to carry this particular badge.
Below the Royal Coat of Arms there is a pendant with the Arms of the Borough of Reading. This pendant is fairly new, dating from 1953 when the present Arms were granted. The Deputy Mayor’s Chain of Office has the pendant with the previous Arms, and the Mayoress’ chain has a badge representing the ancient Common Seal of the Borough.
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