The Lord Mayor's Show is celebrating its 800th anniversary on 14 November and this year's pageant will include the Batmobile, Noah's Ark and a tank. To commemorate this anniversary, St Mary-le-Bow church bells will ring out a special 800-change at noon.
The artwork for this year's show is specially created by Sir Peter Blake, who is most famous for his album cover of the Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The design also features on the front cover of a new book, Lord Mayor's Show: 800 years 1215-2015, edited by Hannah Bowen and Dominic Reid OBE, the show's pageantmaster. "The Lord Mayor's Show is the only event of its kind in the world that has taken place annually over eight centuries," Reid said.
This year, maritime expert Alderman Jeffrey Mountevans has been elected as the 688th Lord Mayor of the City of London, taking over from Alan Yarrow. Lord Mountevans is a crossbench peer in the House of Lords and served as the sheriff of the City of London in 2012/13.
The theme for this year is "Innovate here – succeed anywhere". In his new role, the new Lord Mayor is looking forward to working with financial and business leaders to implement this. "We've always been great innovators in Britain, adapting, remodelling and doing things better and we need to accelerate that process and that's why I've made it my priority to raise awareness about UK business," Mountevans said.
"The government has four priorities: rebalancing the economy, productivity, exports and Britain walking tall, which means respect. For all of these things innovation is absolutely critical. To grow the economy – for Britain and the regions – we need growth."
The first country Mountevans will visit is Malta to meet with the Commonwealth government heads. In January, a trip to the Gulf will involve meeting business and government leaders, the governor of the bank, as well as the finance minister.
There are very old friendships in the Gulf and we are looking to grow the British contribution to economic activity and to encourage inward investment, which is an important part of my job," says Mountevans. "We have some very big Middle Eastern investors in the UK now."
The role of the Lord Mayor is not just a ceremonial one but one that can open doors to introductions to key decision makers. As Mountevans says: "The perception of the City overseas is much higher very often than it is in the UK. So you get access to very senior people. The heads of state just want to see the Lord Mayor."
Apart from spending 90 days abroad, the Lord Mayor also has an extensive UK travel programme. "I'm looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting on with the real job of promotion of financial and professional business services in the City and in the UK. There are over 2 million jobs in financial services in the UK, something like a third of them in the City. In Belfast, a very big employer is Citibank, in Dorset, the second biggest employer after the local authority is JP Morgan. The reach of the City is far bigger than what goes on in the Square Mile."
What does the Lord Mayor of London do?
The role is to serve as the global ambassador for UK-based financial and business services. Since 1215, the newly elected Lord Mayor has to leave the safety of the City of London and travel through the streets of the Square Mile to Westminster to swear loyalty to the Crown.
The Lord Mayor typically spends around three months a year overseas accompanying business delegations to gain high-level access to influencers and key international decision-makers in government and business. The role involves participating in business forums or seminars organised to enhance the key messages of the visit. He will address around 10,000 people face-to-face each month and make around 800 speeches every year. The position is for one year and is unpaid and unpolitical, travelling overseas with the status of a cabinet minister.
The office of Lord Mayor was instituted in 1189, the first holder of the office being Henry Fitz-Ailwin de Londonestone. The Mayor of the City of London has been elected by the City, rather than appointed by the Sovereign, ever since a Royal Charter providing for a Mayor was issued by King John in 1215. The title "Lord Mayor" came to be used after 1354, when it was granted to Thomas Legge by King Edward III.
In 1757 Sir Charles Asgill, a banker who became the next Lord Mayor, commissioned Joseph Berry of Leather Lane in Holborn to make the State Coach, which is still used today. The original cost of £1,065.0s.3d. equates to around £120,000, but the replacement value has been estimated at £2 million.