Posted on Jul 05, 2012 | Comments 0
One of England’s most famous landmarks will be no more…at least in name that is. Big Ben, London’s famous clock tower, will have its name officially changed to the Elizabeth Tower to honor the queen’s 60 years on the British throne, which is her diamond jubilee. The government made the announcement in late June and of course it stirred some controversy.
In actual fact, the clock, which can be found at the Houses of Parliament, is officially named the Clock Tower. However, the huge 13.5 ton chiming clock bell has been known as Big Ben for decades. David Cameron, the British prime minister, said the changing of the name to the Elizabeth Tower is an excellent way to recognize the Queen’s six decades of service.
Many people thought the name change didn’t make sense since the world knows the clock as Big Ben and will likely still call it that. But some residents felt it was a fantastic way to honor the queen.
The neo-Gothic tower is 313 feet in height and was built in 1858 with four clock faces on it, making it the largest four-faced clock-chiming clock on the globe. There are 393 steps that lead people to the tower’s top and the views of the River Thames and city of London are quite exceptional from here.
A lawmaker of the Conservative Party named Tobias Ellwood proposed the name change and parliamentary authorities accepted it. The queen’s diamond jubilee was one of London’s biggest celebrations for many a year in 2012 as it featured concerts, a horse-draws procession, and a huge flotilla on the River Thames.
The queen’s great-great grandmother was also honored in a similar way when the King’s Tower at the Palace of Westminster was renamed the Victoria Tower many years ago in celebration of her long reign. The queen said she was moved and touched by the honor, but hopes people realize that the bell will always be known as Big Ben, while it is just the clock tower itself that will be changed. There will likely be a renaming ceremony in the near future which the queen is expected to attend.
There have been a total of 41 ruling monarchs in England’s history, with just Queen Victoria and Elizabeth II reigning for at least 60 years. It’s believed that Elizabeth’s traveled the world more than any other head of state and is one of the most admired public figures on the planet.
Big Ben has been recognized as a symbol of the British nation’s resolve over the years. It withstood numerous bombing raids during World War II and is definitely one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world, not just Britain. During World War I, the clock tower was darkened for two years at night and the bells didn’t chime. This was to prevent it from being damaged during air raids. The face was also darkened during World War II, but the bells kept chiming.
There’s always been a lot of confusion over its name, since many people thought the actual clock was named Big Ben, when in fact it was the nickname of its largest bell. The clock tower was designed by Augustus Pugin. Whatever the official name may be, you can bet that most people will always refer to this famous British landmark as Big Ben.
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