In 2004 the Government introduced a requirement that all persons aged 18 years or over, who are accepted for a naturalisation of registration as British citizens must take a citizenship oath and pledge at a Citizenship Ceremony. The Ceremony enables the acquisition of citizenship to be celebrated within the local community and encourage community cohesion, and they have become successful and popular events throughout the United Kingdom. Citizenship Ceremonies are administered by Suffolk County Council’s Registration Service.
Deputy Lieutenants are invited to attend in the role of ‘Dignitary’ at Citizenship Ceremonies across the County. Others invited to perform the role of Dignitary include The Lord Lieutenant, The High Sheriff and Civic Heads (Chairman of the County or District Council or a Mayor).
The Registrar leads the Ceremony and the Dignitary makes a ‘welcome speech’ which usually covers the history and characteristics of the local community. There follows the making of the oath or affirmation of allegiance and pledge of loyalty to the State, and then presentation of the certificates of citizenship, for which the new citizens will be called up graduation style. Deputy Lieutenants can enjoy the role of meeting the new citizens and welcoming them to the County.