If its pomp and pageantry you are looking for, then head off to London. If it is fireworks you desire, again, head off to London. This November will see plenty of both. The one stand-out event that will provide both spectacles is the Lord Mayor’s Show.
The ceremony and pageantry goes back 799 years to 1215 when King John granted the citizens of London the right to elect their own mayor. The post of Lord Mayor of London is probably one of the first elected offices in the world. However, in return, the new mayor had to leave the City of London and travel to Westminster and swear allegiance to the Crown.
Over time the Mayor’s journey became a very public ceremony. It involved river barges, horses and coaches. It took on the garb of a colourful festival effectively taking over the streets of Central London. The citizens of London took the opportunity to get into unruly party mood, and sometimes sword fights, thus earning the sobriquet of ‘Show’.
The 2013 edition of this ancient cavalcade will definitely be a ‘Show’. It is expected that more than half a million people will line the route with many times that number watching on television. Hopefully swordplay will not occur.
The parade will start from Mansion House, the Lord Mayor’s Palace. It will then wend its three and a half mile way, via Square Mile to the Royal Courts of Justice where he will, like the 685 before him, swear allegiance to the Queen. There will be a modern touch to the proceedings. The parade will be kicked off by an RAF aircraft fly-past.
The procession will also feature more than 6,000 people from a large number of organisations, marching bands of the military and non-military variety, extravagantly decorated floats, Chinese acrobats, samba music and dancing and other forms of entertainment. The highlight will be the 254 year-old gold gilded State Coach of the Lord Mayor flanked and guarded by the legendary pikemen.
For thirty years the Lord Mayor’s Show ended with brilliant fireworks. The fireworks in the evening are London’s most impressive and a fitting and grand finale to an extravagant day. The fireworks are piled high and set off from a barge moored in the centre of the Thames River, midway between Waterloo and Blackfriars Bridges.
Londoners and people from all over the world will gather to witness and marvel at a display rooted in an ancient display of pomp, power and pageantry.
The 2013 Lord Mayor's Show is on Saturday November 9th. It begins at 11am, and will be followed by the Lord Mayor's Fireworks at 5pm in the evening.
Image Courtesy: Gerry Knight