Friday, February 03, 2012
It's an exciting morning to be a southeast Londoner. Yesterday Greenwich was just an ordinary London borough with housing officers, street sweepers and self-important councillors. But this morning it's awoken as the Royal Borough of Greenwich, complete with official charter from Her Majesty the Queen, in commemoration of her Diamond Jubilee. How chuffed must the mayor be to have this honour bestowed during his period of office. How thrilled must councillors be to run a bigger name borough than measly Southwark, Lewisham, Croydon or Bexley nextdoor. And how proud must local residents be now that their very existence is suddenly more important through royal recognition? Yeah, that proud.I think we can all agree it won't be Goole (the City of Goole, whatever were councillors thinking?). And it definitely won't be Tower Hamlets either, firstly because no committee would ever award the second Jubilee honour to anywhere adjacent to the Royal Borough of Greenwich, and secondly because the City of Tower Hamlets is an entirely ridiculous, almost megalomaniac, concept. The previous new city announcement, for the Golden Jubilee in 2002, was made in mid-March, so maybe we've a few weeks to wait yet. But the smart money is on Reading, currently 8/11 favourite following a recent spate of suspiciously big wagers, with Perth in second place at 5/1 and Medway at 8/1. And then, seriously, Tower Hamlets is the fourth favourite at 9/1?!? Surely Her Majesty has more wisdom, in her old age, than to bestow Jubilee honours on a second patch of inner city urban sprawl?
Changes are afoot locally in order to recognise Royal borough status. The borough has a new royal crest, complete with royal bits on the shield and everything. New street signs are being erected (they say "Royal Borough of Greenwich"). The council website (now royalgreenwich.gov.uk) is getting a makeover, complete with a section of crest as a background graphic. And this weekend Royal Greenwich residents can celebrate with fireworks, and historical re-enactments, and a big parade, and even a drop-in lantern-making workshop. Here's the celebratory timetable, by royal appointment.Friday 3rd February (Woolwich): 4:30pm Festivities begin in General Gordon Square, 6:30pm Mayoral speech, followed by ten minutes of fireworksBut Royal Greenwich boasts no current royal palaces. The area merits its royal borough status thanks solely to past glories, most especially during Tudor times. Henry VIII was born in Greenwich, and twice married here. His children Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth I were all born at the palace, which is also where poor Edward died. Then there's the Royal Dockyard, and the Royal Naval College, and the Royal Observatory, not to mention the Royal Blackheath Golf Club. And if that's not enough, the Queen Mother visited in 1978 to open the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, as an increasingly tangential heritage page on the council's website proudly bears witness.
Saturday 4th February (Eltham): 10am-2pm Historical activities and free entry at Eltham Palace, 5pm Festivities begin at the Tudor Barn, 6pm fireworks
Sunday 5th February (Greenwich): 10am-6pm Historical activities in and around the Old Royal Naval College, 5pm Grand Royal Greenwich Parade, 6pm fireworks
It's rare too, this royal moniker. Only two other London boroughs share the honour, a couple more in the Home Counties, and not terribly many more outside the capital. Here's the full list of British locations with nominated royal patronage.Boroughs: Royal Borough of Greenwich (thanks to the Diamond Jubilee assignation), Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (because Queen Victoria was born at Kensington Palace), Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames (because it was the coronation place of King Æthelstan in 925AD), Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (because of Windsor Castle)Meanwhile it can't be long now until an official announcement is made of the name of Britain's newest city. This is another Diamond Jubilee-related honour, and the winner will be one of the urban districts on the following list:
Counties: Royal Berkshire (because of Windsor Castle)
Towns: Royal Town of Caernarfon (because of the castle), Royal Leamington Spa (because Queen Victoria visited the spa in 1838), Royal Tunbridge Wells (in recognition of the town's connections with the royal family since the Stuart dynasty), Royal Wootton Bassett (because some of the townspeople paid their respects to repatriated armed forces coffins for a few years)Would-be Diamond Jubilee cities:Bolton, Bournemouth, Chelmsford, Colchester, Coleraine, Corby, Craigavon, Croydon, Doncaster, Dorchester, Dudley, Dumfries, Gateshead, Goole, Luton, Medway, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Perth, Reading, Southend, St Asaph, St Austell, Stockport, Tower Hamlets, Wrexham.
Jan16 Feb16 Mar16 Apr16 May16 Jun16 Jul16 Aug16 Sep16 Oct16 Nov16 Dec16
Jan15 Feb15 Mar15 Apr15 May15 Jun15 Jul15 Aug15 Sep15 Oct15 Nov15 Dec15
Jan14 Feb14 Mar14 Apr14 May14 Jun14 Jul14 Aug14 Sep14 Oct14 Nov14 Dec14
Jan13 Feb13 Mar13 Apr13 May13 Jun13 Jul13 Aug13 Sep13 Oct13 Nov13 Dec13
Jan12 Feb12 Mar12 Apr12 May12 Jun12 Jul12 Aug12 Sep12 Oct12 Nov12 Dec12
Jan11 Feb11 Mar11 Apr11 May11 Jun11 Jul11 Aug11 Sep11 Oct11 Nov11 Dec11
Jan10 Feb10 Mar10 Apr10 May10 Jun10 Jul10 Aug10 Sep10 Oct10 Nov10 Dec10
Jan09 Feb09 Mar09 Apr09 May09 Jun09 Jul09 Aug09 Sep09 Oct09 Nov09 Dec09
Jan08 Feb08 Mar08 Apr08 May08 Jun08 Jul08 Aug08 Sep08 Oct08 Nov08 Dec08
Jan07 Feb07 Mar07 Apr07 May07 Jun07 Jul07 Aug07 Sep07 Oct07 Nov07 Dec07
Jan06 Feb06 Mar06 Apr06 May06 Jun06 Jul06 Aug06 Sep06 Oct06 Nov06 Dec06
Jan05 Feb05 Mar05 Apr05 May05 Jun05 Jul05 Aug05 Sep05 Oct05 Nov05 Dec05
Jan04 Feb04 Mar04 Apr04 May04 Jun04 Jul04 Aug04 Sep04 Oct04 Nov04 Dec04
Jan03 Feb03 Mar03 Apr03 May03 Jun03 Jul03 Aug03 Sep03 Oct03 Nov03 Dec03
Jan02 Feb02 Mar02 Apr02 May02 Jun02 Jul02 Aug02 Sep02 Oct02 Nov02 Dec02