General Meeting 2022 | Royal Charter

Published 16/12/2021

At the 2021 AGM, our President, Dr Claire Colebourn, talked about the opportunity of applying for a Royal Charter. The British Society of Echocardiography (BSE) is now in the very fortunate position of being invited to petition to the Privy Council for a Royal Charter and is seeking your support to do so.

Members are asked to consider and vote on the Special Resolution outlined in the Notice below. We have included a list of frequently asked questions below which will hopefully provide you with all the information you need. However, if you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected].

Letter from the President

I hope this finds you safe and well and coping with the challenges of wave four. Remember to take great care of yourselves during this period.

I could not have better or more exciting news to give you.

When I became President, my primary goal was to significantly raise the profile of our work and establish echocardiography as a well-recognised specialism in its own right. One of the best ways to attain this is to achieve the status of a Royal College. Over the last 12 months we have learned a great deal about the process; what is required, and the honour bestowed upon those organisations which are successful.

The first stage to achieve this status is to persuade the Privy Council that an organisation is worthy of consideration, after which point it is invited to petition for a Royal Charter. I am delighted and proud to tell you that the Privy Council have now invited the BSE to proceed with a petition; a very positive sign.

A Royal Charter is a rare thing and is awarded to institutions who demonstrate pre-eminence in their field, work in the interests of the public and who demonstrate permanence through their governance and processes. The Sovereign is the only person who has the power to bestow a Royal Charter; initially conferring the status of chartered body, and at a later date, the right to apply to use Royal in the title; Chartered bodies have a fabulous roll call dating back to the 12th century when the first Universities and Chartered companies were created. It’s fascinating reading – have a look when you get five minutes off!

The petition will take much of 2022 to complete and will take the form of a proposal to be recognised as a Chartered educational body. If we are successful this will be a landmark moment in our history, cementing our position as ‘echocardiographers’, from all backgrounds and specialties, as a unique profession.

Even getting to this point is a wonderful moment, and we are here because of the work done by our founders and everyone who has contributed through committees, examining, council, trustees and of course the operational team who keep the Society running day to day whist we are all echoing, seeing and managing patients.

I hope you feel suitably proud of your achievement as you read this because our strength lies in our membership - without you driving development and quality we wouldn’t exist.

I have written some FAQs which are available on this page. Until recently I had never heard of the Chartering process either, so I know you will have the same questions I did both about the process and the implications for the Society, which hopefully you will find the answers to.

If you have any further questions please email me at [email protected] and I will respond directly.

An important date for your diary is Thursday 3 February 2022 when we will hold a General Meeting at 6.00 pm to vote on the below Special Resolution and to finalise our application before we formally petition the Privy Council and Her Majesty the Queen.

I hope this puts a spring in your step as you pelt around the hospital - don’t spill the echo gel in your excitement!

I wish everyone a great 2022 - it could be an amazing year for the Society.

With best wishes

Dr Claire Colebourn
President, British Society of Echocardiography

Proposed Petition

Proposed Charter

Proposed Bylaws

Register to attend virtually

Please note that you must be logged in as a member to register for this meeting.

Proxy voting slip

Please copy the text below, personalise it and send to [email protected] to secure your proxy vote by 6.00 pm on Wednesday 2 February 2022.


I, [Company Member's name and address], being a Company Member of the above-named company hereby appoint: the Chair as my proxy to vote on my behalf at the annual general meeting of the Company to be held on the 3rd day of February 2022 and at any adjournment thereof. This form is to be used in respect of the Resolution mentioned below as follows:


That the British Society of Echocardiography shall petition to Her Majesty The Queen for a Royal Charter of incorporation in accordance with the draft Petition, Charter, and Bylaws as shown on the Company’s website (at and subject to any changes thereto that Her Majesty’s Privy Council may require.

Special Resolution *for *against
*delete as appropriate

Signed [] this [] day of [..month year..]

Notice of General Meeting

Thursday 3 February 2022, 6.00 pm

Notice is hereby given of a General Meeting of the British Society of Echocardiography (the “Company”) which will be held virtually on Thursday 3 February 2022 to transact the business set out below.

Members are asked to consider and vote on the following Special Resolution. The draft Charter and governing documents to be considered and if thought appropriate adopted are set out above on this page.


That the British Society of Echocardiography shall petition to Her Majesty The Queen for a Royal Charter of incorporation in accordance with the draft Petition, Charter, and Bylaws as shown on the Company’s website (at and subject to any changes thereto that Her Majesty’s Privy Council may require.

By order of the board

Dr Claire Colebourn
President, British Society of Echocardiography
Unit 204, The Print Rooms, 164-180 Union Street, London, SE1 0LH

Note to the Notice of Annual General Meeting of the Company

A member may appoint a proxy to vote at the General Meeting on their behalf. Please see the details below.


What is a Royal Charter?

A Royal Charter is an ‘instrument of incorporation’, granted by The Queen, which confers independent legal personality on an organisation and defines its objectives, constitution and powers to govern its own affairs.

Incorporation by Charter is a prestigious way of acquiring legal personality and reflects the high status of that body. The authority for the grant of a Charter comes from the Royal Prerogative, that is to say, the grant is made by the Sovereign (on the advice of the Privy Council).

A Royal Charter does not automatically confer the title ‘Royal’ on the applicant, but the process of Chartering is ‘Royal’ since Her Majesty the Queen must be satisfied that we fulfil the criteria for incorporation to bestow the title ‘Chartered’ on us. We may however seek to achieve ‘Royal’ in our title at a later date. This is the first step in that process.

Why are we applying?

A Charter would highlight echocardiography as a speciality, increasing awareness of our work and giving us a stronger voice. It would enhance our Society’s standing as the single national centre and voice for the practice of echocardiographers. This essentially formally recognises and ‘rubber-stamps’ at the highest level the work that we do for our patients.

Societies such as ours are only in a position to petition for a Charter when they have reached a certain maturity in what they do, such that they are regarded by their peers as effectively already setting the standard in their profession. We are in a fairly unique position that we can now consider doing this.

How will this affect my membership?

The intention is that it will enhance members’ experience, ensuring they have the profile and recognition they deserve.

With regards to fees, there are no plans for an increase in fees and they will continue to be due on 1 April every year. All membership benefits will continue as normal.

Accredited members and Fellows will be entitled to use post-nominal identifiers as described below.

How do we ‘petition’ for a Royal Charter and who is it bestowed by?

Having been given a positive response from our initial approach to the Privy Council we have now been invited to Petition for a Royal Charter. This involves producing and submitting the following core documents:

  1. The Petition which formally requests a Royal Charter and describes our history, how we run ourselves and what we do for patients and the public.
  2. Our proposed Charter which describes the powers of the organisation. These would replace the Articles.
  3. Our proposed by-laws which essentially describe our internal structure
  4. A list of non-objectors - this is the formal name given to the support offered by our fellow societies and colleges, essentially all the people that we interact with when doing our job.

These documents will be available for you to review in the coming weeks.

Once the Privy Council receive our Petition documents, they will form a committee who go out to their advisors for triangulation in order to decide amongst themselves if we should be recommended for Chartering to Her Majesty the Queen.

The Charter is referred to as Royal because the Charter can only be bestowed by the Sovereign. The Sovereign will sign our Royal Charter to create a new ‘public body’ if Her Majesty believes it has been shown to be in the interests of the public to do so.

What would our name be if the BSE was incorporated by Royal Charter? Why does it need to change?

Our new name would need to describe who we are and what we do for the British public. 

  1. A ‘Royal Charter’ refers to our service to the British public. The word ‘Chartered’ actually means ‘appointed as a public body by the Sovereign in the interests of the British public’. So you can see why the word Chartered is so useful!
  2. We would also move from being a ‘society’ (a group of like-minded individuals with common aims and interests) and become a ‘college’ (an appointed educational body which awards post-nominals for the achievement of accreditation or fellowships). This would allow our accredited members to use the post-nominal identifier ‘Member of the Chartered College of Echocardiographers’ (MCCE) or ‘Fellow of the Chartered College of Echocardiographers’ (FCCE).
  3. The word Echocardiographers refers to who we are as a professional group.

Therefore our new name would be:

‘The Chartered College of Echocardiographers’

Which other organisations have achieved a Royal Charter?

The history of Royal Chartering goes back to 1155. If Her Majesty the Queen chooses to bestow a Royal Charter on the Society then we will take our formal place in British history and join a list of institutions which make up the essential fabric of public life. Click here to see who has come before us, from the Weavers Company in 1155 to the Royal College of Emergency Medicine in 2008. Since Chartering began nearly 900 years ago just over 1,000 bodies have been awarded a Royal Charter, so you can see how prestigious this would be for us.

How would this affect my accreditation status?

Anyone who has achieved accreditation with the BSE (in whatever specialty or specialties) would be immediately granted the post-nominal MCCE or FCCE for Fellows. New successful examination candidates would be granted those post-nominals from the moment of incorporation onwards.

This would confer a significant professional status to our examinations and demonstrate parity across all of our arenas of work.

Your accreditation status would not be affected in any other way including the re-accreditation status.

Are there any downsides to being incorporated by a Royal Charter? What are the potential benefits?

Given that we are seeking a Charter in order to have our national work and the high standard of our professional examinations recognised as they are in their current form, there are no downsides to this process for us as members.

Conversely the potential benefits of holding a Royal Charter are vast: these are the five most important reasons we are seeking a Charter:

  1. Stronger voice for interacting with government and other national offices
  2. Unified professional identity with which to address long term workforce issues
  3. Attractive robust professional post-nominal identifiers attracting new individuals into the workforce
  4. Parity with organisations of a similar standing to our own
  5. Recognition for our meteoric development over the last 30 years

What would be the effect on the immediate work of the Society?

The work of the new College would reflect our current portfolio: that is to educate and accredit echocardiographers and to develop the profession of echocardiography through working in partnership and representing the profession at a governmental level. The Charter would not change the focus.

How does this affect the regulation of echocardiographers as a profession?

The new College would not become a national regulatory body: we have not included this power in our by-laws. However, we would continue to professionally regulate the list of accredited members which we would continue to hold and maintain. The Society currently already performs in this role; there would therefore be little change in this regard.

What are the plans for the future?

We will continue to focus all our work on our membership needs as we always have done. We may, at a future date, consider applying for the title ‘Royal’ for the organisation.