The Lord Mayor’s Show: An Historic Procession

Da non confondere con il sindaco della città, un incarico di recente creazione, la figura del Lord Mayor esiste da secoli e ogni anno gli dedicano una grande festa con tanto di processione.

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Lord Mayor of London Peter Estlin.

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The Lord Mayor’s Show is London’s biggest annual party. It’s free, fun, and a chance to enjoy London’s diversity. But the history of the procession, which forms the heart of the show, goes all the way back to 1215 and one king’s desperate attempt to hold onto power.

LONDON’S first Lord Mayor

In the early 1200s, King John had a big problem on his hands. He was losing money and power fast. England’s rich nobles were ready to rebel against him. And so, in 1215, ‘Bad’ King John signed a charter giving more rights to the nobles of London, including the right to elect their own mayor once a year.


Because King John wanted London under his influence, he added one condition: each new mayor would have to travel from London to Westminster, which was then a separate city two miles away, to swear loyalty to the monarch. In those days, that meant taking a boat west up the River Thames. The newly-elected mayor’s journey from the City of London to the King’s residence in Westminster turned into a procession. It has been celebrated almost every year for the last eight centuries, even taking place in times of war.

21st-century procession

Thousands of people still come out every year to watch the Lord Mayor’s Show with its colourful and noisy procession through the streets of ‘the City’. There are floats, a gold carriage, costumes, music, horses and a strong sense of London’s fascinating past.

an amazing cat

London’s most famous Lord Mayor was Richard ‘Dick’ Whittington. Born in 1356, he came to London from the countryside, made big money as a merchant, became a friend of King Richard II and was elected Lord Mayor of London three times. A popular but not very accurate story says that Dick arrived in the City without a penny and made his fortune thanks to his amazing cat.

The Lord Mayor and the Mayor

Are the Lord Mayor of London and the Mayor of London the same person? No! The Lord Mayor of London is the position that goes back to 1215 and is concerned with issues in London’s financial district (the City of London). The Mayor of London (a position only created in the year 2000) deals with issues in Greater London, especially transport. The current Mayor of London is Sadiq Khan (first elected in 2016). Before him it was Boris Johnson.

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