UK’s Chief Medical Officer awarded Freedom of the City of London

Professor Sir Chris Whitty has received the Freedom of the City of London, in recognition of his outstanding achievements in, and contribution to, science and public health.

Sir Chris has played a key role in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK and was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 2022 New Year Honours for services to public health.

A widely respected and hugely experienced epidemiologist and expert in infectious diseases and tropical medicine, Professor Whitty is the government’s Chief Medical Adviser and head of the public health profession. He is also a practising NHS Consultant Physician at University College London Hospitals and the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, and a visiting professor at Gresham College, which is supported by the City of London Corporation.

Nominated for the award by Lord Mayor of the City of London, Professor Michael Mainelli, and City of London Corporation Elected Member Simon Duckworth, Professor Whitty attended his ceremony at Guildhall today, accompanied by family members, friends, and colleagues.

Speaking before today’s ceremony, Lord Mayor Michael Mainelli said:

“As news about COVID-19 began to spread and later, as the pandemic took hold in the UK, Professor Whitty was among those who guided us through those most difficult of times, a calm and authoritative voice when many of us were frightened by the virus, confused by the science, and unsure about the future.

“Remarkable people like Chris deserve our respect and gratitude, and it has been our privilege to award him the Freedom of the City of London today.”

Professor Sir Chris Whitty said:

“It is a great honour to have the Freedom of the City of London. The City has been an important site of medical learning and science for many centuries, and it is a great thing to be part of that long tradition of improving the health of citizens now, and in the future.

“From the ancient guilds, like the apothecaries and barber-surgeons, through teaching medical science in Gresham College to supporting the financing of cutting edge of life sciences, the City has always had a central role in advancing medicine and public health.”

One of the City of London’s ancient traditions, the Freedom is believed to have begun in 1237 and enabled recipients to carry out their trade.

As well as being nominated for, or applying for, the Freedom, it is also offered by the City of London Corporation to individuals as a way of paying tribute to their outstanding contribution to London or public life, or to celebrate a very significant achievement.

Recent high-profile recipients include Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, who initiated and led the development of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine; former England football captain and former Tottenham Hotspur striker, Harry Kane; theatrical impresario, Sir Cameron Mackintosh; and LGBTQ+ activist and London Night Czar, Amy Lamé.


Notes to editors:

[Photo credit: PA Media / Aaron Chown]

For further information, please contact:

Andrew Buckingham, Media Officer (Arts, Culture, Heritage, Licensing), City of London Corporation / 07795 333060 /

About the City of London Corporation:

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally successful UK –