The President is the de facto head of Christ’s Hospital. In the 10 years following the foundation of the School, the President had responsibility for five Hospitals of the City: St Bartholomew, Bethlem, Christ’s, Bridewell and St Thomas; from 1563, each Hospital had a separate President. For many years, the President was a City Alderman, with a vacancy usually being filled by the Lord Mayor then in office. However, in 1854, the ruling Court of Governors, in a much-disputed contest, elected HRH George Duke of Cambridge, a Governor, who was already playing an active role in the governance of the School. He was to serve, loyally and industriously, for nearly 50 years. Since then the School has enjoyed the patronage of a Royal President, the role currently being undertaken by HRH Richard Duke of Gloucester, who in 1975 succeeded his father, HRH Henry Duke of Gloucester (who had served 38 years), thus reaching 40 years in office in 2015.

As with the School’s major offices, at the ceremony of his election and appointment the President receives a charge (terms of office) which is read to him by the Clerk. An observation by Professor Jack Morpurgo is worthy of mention. “Christ’s Hospital is unswervingly loyal but never obsequious; not even royalty is allowed to forget that service to Christ’s Hospital is an honour and responsibility”. The President’s involvement with Christ’s Hospital, for example chairing meetings and attending functions or special events, is very much an individual decision. However, one particular aspect – the privilege of presenting children to the School – does seem generally to have been exercised, this arrangement benefitting many a boy or girl.         

Amongst the list of Presidents, which can be reached by clicking on the icon on the left, in addition to the three long-serving Royal Dukes mentioned above, three names merit special mention. Sir Thomas Ramsey (President, 1582-1590) who, with his wife Dame Mary, was  a major benefactor to the School; Sir John Frederick (1662-1683) and Sir John Moore (serving several times in the mid/late 1680s) were both Lord Mayors of London and both contributed significantly to the rebuilding of the School after the Great Fire. 

The list also provides details of other Presidents, including three members of the Child family: Sir Francis Child (1702-1713) who financed the rebuilding of a Ward; Sir Robert Child (son of Francis, 1718-1721): and Francis Child (son of Francis, 1727-1740); and William Thompson (1829-1854) who gave monies for three Oxbridge awards.