Live: The funeral of Elizabeth II will take place on September 19, many heads of state and government will be expected in London

Why was a proclamation ceremony held in the City of London?

As if to underline that the City has a special constitutional place in the United Kingdom, the proclamation of the new king took place in front of the Royal Exchange this afternoon, in the heart of the financial district. The “real” proclamation took place an hour earlier at St. James’s Palace, where Charles III was, but the only “replicas” of this public announcement, traditionally intended to inform the people, take place in the other three nations of the countries (in the coming days in Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff) and… in the City, which is so close.

On one side, the Bank of England, on the other Mansion House, the residence of the Lord Mayor of the City. In between, under the statue of Wellington, guards in (fake) bear fur caps stand to attention. The proclamation is read, by the strangely named “Clarenceux King of Arms” (a palace officer), before the small crowd gathered in silence which throngs on both sides of the square. “It has pleased almighty God to call to his mercy our late sovereign lady Queen Elizabeth II…” : “Almighty God has recalled our late Sovereign Elizabeth II…” Prince Charles Philip Arthur George is officially made King Charles III.

But why do this to the City? This institution has been at the heart of the British constitutional arrangement for a millennium. When William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066, he arrived in London and made an arrangement: the City (that is to say the whole of the city at the time) recognized him, financed his wars, and in return she kept the right to trade. A thousand years later, the ruler still traditionally cannot enter the City without asking permission from the Lord Mayor. The City also has an officer in place in Parliament, answering to the title of Remembrance, who is actually a business district lobbyist. The Lord Mayor receives the Prime Minister once a year for a banquet, for an important speech on foreign policy. He does the same with the Chancellor of the Exchequer for an economic speech.

Markus Walker is the Anglican priest of St Bartholomew-the-Great, a church dating back to 1123. He came in a cassock to witness the proclamation and recalls that “Historically, no king has survived without the support of the City”. It evokes the precedent of the dispute for the Crown between Stephen and Mathilda in the XIIe century, where the former prevailed thanks to the support of money from the historic center. Similar to XVIe century, when the revolutionary Cromwell came to power with the help of the City. “Even today, the City is at the heart of our nation’s economic power”continues the priest.

All this is wrapped in pomp and traditions maintained with as much irony as seriousness. John May came on site with his large ceremonial necklace from the Worshipful Company of Paviors, the trades of the “pavers”. “Traditionally, we were responsible for laying the cobblestones and maintaining the roads of the City. » Today, this profession – there are dozens of similar ones in the City – comes together with the aim of raising money for charities but also for networking and lobbying. “Impossible to be influential here without being part of these groups, and therefore to be active in charities”explains Markus Walker. God Save the Kingsang the crowd fervently. “And the City”must have silently thought the officials present at the ceremony.

Eric Albert (London, correspondence)

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