Granting Freedom of the City is an historic tradition by which a community recognizes a military unit and grants it the privilege of marching through its streets with drums beating, Colours flying and bayonets fixed. It is a prized honour from a community that also enables a city to recognize the merits of a military unit and express the affection and esteem of its citizens for the unit.
The privilege of being granted the “Freedom of the City” is an ancient and honoured tradition which began in the 15th century and was developed when cities and towns were surrounded and protected by walls. During the War of the Roses in England, cities were constantly endangered by military units attempting to march through, and sometimes, inhabit them. Historically, before the unit could pass through the city walls, the Chief Constable would demand to know the reason why the unit had arrived. He would then escort their commander to the chambers of city council. If the city leaders felt that the unit could be trusted, the unit would be granted the privilege known as the “Freedom of the City”. This allowed the unit to enter the city without first being required to disarm; that is, with drums beating, banners flying, and weapons carried.