Members of London’s Garrick Club vote to let women join for first time

Vote followed outrage over membership list that revealed the club was a bastion of Britain’s establishment.

The Garrick Club in London. It's a quite austere looking building. Some women are walking on the street outside.
The Garrick Club was founded in 1831 in the heart of London's West End [File: Tolga Akmen/AFP]

The members of the men-only Garrick Club in central London have voted to allow women to join for the first time.

The 193-year-old club’s membership remains a closely guarded secret, but the Guardian newspaper revealed in March that it included about 1,500 men, mostly prominent members of Britain’s establishment.

The report fuelled anger that so many influential men – from King Charles to actor Benedict Cumberbatch – had joined a club that continued to ban women.

On Tuesday evening, amid a bitter dispute over the issue, members met to review the legal wording around the club’s constitution and said there was nothing to prevent women from joining.

About 60 percent of members then voted to allow women to join, according to the BBC and the Guardian.

The last vote on admitting women took place in 2015 and failed narrowly.

Tuesday’s decision was generally welcomed although the Right to Equality campaign group expressed disappointment that it rested “on a legal technicality rather than representing a profound desire by members to associate with women”.

The Garrick, in Covent Garden, was founded in 1831 for actors and “men of refinement and education”. It was one of the last private members’ clubs in London not to allow women to join.

After the membership list was revealed, some members resigned, including spy chief Richard Moore and the head of the Civil Service, Simon Case.

Source: Al Jazeera