Our history

The history of Royal London

The story of Royal London all began over a cup of coffee...

black cup and saucer

Our story began in Victorian Britain, in a time when those who could not afford a proper burial would receive what was known as a pauper’s funeral – a basic affair organised by the local parish.

As society placed a strong emphasis on respectability, such a burial was deemed the ultimate disgrace, and so even the poorest people would contribute a halfpenny a week to a local burial club to avoid a pauper’s funeral at all costs.

Burial clubs would eventually become Friendly Societies, and in February 1861, two men named Joseph Degge and Henry Ridge met in a coffee house on City Road to discuss the formation of a new one. By the end of that meeting, the men had formed the Royal London Life Insurance and Benefit Society.

As the business grew, the decision was made in 1908 to convert from a Friendly Society to a Mutual, and we’ve remained that way ever since. Today, Royal London is the largest mutual life, pensions and investment company in the UK, with funds under management of £114 billion, 8.8 million policies in force and 3,637 employees. (Figures quoted are as at 31 December 2017).

Our Committee of Management, including our Founders, out and about in the 1860s

Our early Chief offices in Finsbury, 1904

Proud to be mutual

Through our status as a mutual, we are able to continually improve and expand our products and customer service, as we are in regular contact with our members.

As we're a mutual insurer, we have no shareholders to pay, so we can ensure our profits are only distributed amongst you - our members - or reinvested to give better returns. This means our members can enjoy better value, higher levels of customer service and greater levels of satisfaction.

Early policy documents displayed our impressive coat of arms...

...while agents our district offices were on hand to provide personal service