Changing the name
For as long as any of us can remember, it’s been called Big Ben. The clock, faithfully telling the time for more than a century, high above the UK’s houses of parliament, has become one of the most iconic images of London and England more general (up there with the Spice Girls, I’d say).
But it looks like it might be about to get a name change.
Although it’s best known by its more informal moniker, Big Ben is officially called the Clock Tower. And it’s that official name that politicians may soon vote to change.
In recognition of the Queen’s diamond jubilee, one member of parliament has proposed renaming the Clock Tower to Elizabeth Tower. The idea’s been quickly picked up by member on both sides of the house and seems to have unanimous support.
Would this be a first?
The name change would not be without precedent. Another of Westminster’s turrets is called Victoria Tower, in honour of the only other British monarch to reach a diamond jubilee. Many think it would be fitting for the empire’s two longest-serving rulers to be immortalised at one of London’s most important landmarks.
As Labour’s shadow defence secretary, Jim Murphy, apparently put it: “The Queen and the Clock Tower are known throughout the world. It would be brilliant if we could celebrate 60 years of service with a permanent monument to Her Majesty’s dedication and grace.”
In all likelihood, most people will still call it Big Ben. When the chimes ring out across the Thames, the nearby citizens and tourists will probably not immediately bring Queen Elizabeth II to the forefront of their minds.
But as much as the clock and the tower is a symbol of the city, the new name will be a symbol of the monarch who has ruled over it for so long.