London’s elite Garrick Club votes to allow women for the first time

In Europe

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A general view of the exclusive men-only Garrick Club on March 21, 2024 in London, England. 

Leon Neal | Getty Images News | Getty Images

LONDON — Members of Britain’s exclusive all-male Garrick Club has reportedly voted to permit women to join the institution for the first time in its 193-year history.

The vote on Tuesday was reportedly passed with 59.98% in favor following a two-hour confidential debate, which was held near the club’s headquarters in central London and was closed off to non-members.

The historic vote comes after the club has been under immense scrutiny over recent weeks following the publication by the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper of some of the elite club’s most influential members.

The closely-guarded membership list showed the club to be an emblem of Britain’s patriarchal establishment, with the majority of members white and aged over 50.

Listed as members alongside King Charles III were the deputy prime minister, the head of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), dozens of members of the House of Lords and 10 members of parliament. Notable public figures from the arts, including actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Brian Cox, were also named.

The Garrick Club, named after the 18th-century actor David Garrick, was founded in 1831 as a place where “actors and men of refinement and education might meet on equal terms,” according to a statement on the club’s website. Today, it has over 1,300 members.

Women hold banners during a protest for equality at the entrance to the Garrick Club in London, UK, on Thursday, March 28, 2024. 

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A spokesperson for the club did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment via email. A member of staff told CNBC via telephone that there is no department to deal with queries on the vote.

However, a source told the Guardian that 562 members had voted in favor and 375 (40.02%) voted against. 

Britain’s famed private-member clubs have faced growing criticism over recent years following a series of scandals which have unearthed sexism, vandalism and bullying within the elite groups.

Former British prime ministers Boris Johnson and David Cameron were shamed after revelations surfaced over a culture of toxicity and bullying within their Oxford University Bullingdon Club. Meanwhile, the organizer of a President’s Club charity dinner was forced to resign following reports of sexual harrasment of hostesses at the event.

It was not immediately clear when women would be permitted to join the Garrick Club or how they might become eligible should they be interested.

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