MPs in Britain are proposing that Big Ben, which stands proudly on the River Thames, be renamed Elizabeth Tower to commemorate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee
Big Ben was completed on 10th April 1858 and has become one of the most prominent symbols of both London and Britain. The clock tower itself holds the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world and is the third-tallest free-standing clock tower.
The term Big Ben was applied first to the Great Bell, though the origin of the nickname is the subject of some debate. It may have been named after Sir Benjamin Hall, the British civil engineer and politician, who oversaw the installation of the Great Bell during the rebuild of the Houses of Parliament from 1855- 1858. However, some believe that the name is attributed to boxing’s Heavyweight Champion, Benjamin Caunt, who fought his way to the top in1841.
So why do the government want to give the famous landmark a new title after all this time?
In 1860, the west tower of the Palace of Westminster, originally called The King’s Tower, was renamed the Victoria Tower to commemorate her long reign. MPs are keen to replicate a similar fitting tribute for Queen Elizabeth II- the only other British monarch in history to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee.
In its 153 years, Big Ben has witnessed many significant events in history. For two years during World War I, the bells were silenced and the clock face darkened at night to prevent attack by German Zeppelins. Similarly, the clock faces were darkened at night throughout World War II to prevent guiding Blitz pilots, though the solemn bells continued to ring into the night.
Today, Big Ben more commonly serves as a symbol of unity. It brings together the nation frequently, whether its to remember those who are no longer with us on Remembrance Day or become a focus of New Year celebrations up and down the country.
The iconic clock tower is a star in its own right, making cameo appearance in countless feature films and being able to evoke a sense of Britishness from a single chime.
But, will we welcome in 2013 under the bells of Elizabeth Tower? Only time will tell!
Want to know more about the Diamond Jubilee? Read a free online preview of Elizabeth: The Queen our special Diamond Jubilee souvenir magazine.
Published by BRITAIN – the official magazine of VisitBritain – to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, Elizabeth – The Queen charts Her Majesty’s public and personal life during 60 fascinating years at the head of the world’s most famous Royal Family.
Read the first chapter below and order your souvenir copy here
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