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.
TIMETABLE FOR THE DAY
09:00: River Pageant
After several centuries, the Lord Mayor's flotilla is back in the water. The new Lord Mayor will travel in QRB Gloriana, the traditional Thames barge made famous in the Jubilee celebrations, with an accompanying procession of 24 traditional Thames boats from London's livery companies and port authorities. The journey will take about an hour, and the Lord Mayor will reach Mansion House ready to join the procession to the Royal Courts.
11:00: Lord Mayor's Procession
The procession includes over 7,000 participants, 20 bands, 150 horses, hundreds of other carriages, carts, coaches and other vehicles, including vintage cars, steam buses, tanks, tractors, ambulances, fire engines, unicycles, steamrollers, giant robots, helicopters, ships, penny farthings, beds and bathtubs.
The procession sets off from Mansion House at 11am. It pauses at the Royal Courts, while the Lord Mayor gives his oath, and then returns up the Victoria Embankment at about 1pm. The Lord Mayor will get back to Mansion House just after 2pm.
Wicker giants called Gog and Magog, the traditional guardians of the City of London, first walked at the head of the Lord Mayor's procession around 500 years ago. The figures connect the show to its origins in medieval pageantry and date back to pre-Christian London. The old giants were carnival figures standing 14 feet high and made from wickerwork and pasteboard. They required constant repair and reconstruction until eventually in the early 18th century they were replaced with wooden statues. In 2006, the Company of Basketmakers offered to recreate the medieval figures and have produced the two giants.
15:00: Guided Walks
City of London Guide Lecturers give free walking tours around the streets of the City of London.
17:15: Lord Mayor's Fireworks
The new Lord Mayor completes his first day in office with a fireworks display over the Thames. The launchpad floats in the river between Blackfriars and Waterloo and all the roads in that area are still closed, so the public can walk around either bank of the river and find a good spot to view the end of the show.