In 1747, the Lord Mayor proceeded to Westminster Hall via barge on the River Thames.
The Lord Mayor of London is the City of London's mayor and leader of the City of London Corporation. Within the City, the Lord Mayor is accorded precedence over all individuals except the sovereign and retains various traditional powers, rights and privileges, including the title and style The Right Honourable Lord Mayor of London.
In 2006 the Corporation of London changed its name to the City of London Corporation, when the title Lord Mayor of the City of London was reintroduced, partly to avoid confusion with the Mayor of London. However, the legal and commonly-used title remains Lord Mayor of London.
The Lord Mayor is elected at Common Hall each year on Michaelmas, and takes office on the Friday before the second Saturday in November, at The Silent Ceremony.
The Lord Mayor's Show is held on the day after taking office; the Lord Mayor, preceded by a procession, travels to the Royal Courts of Justice at the Strand to swear allegiance to the sovereign before the Justices of the High Court.
One of the world's oldest continuously elected civic offices, the Lord Mayor's main role nowadays is to represent, support and promote the businesses and residents in the City of London. Today, these businesses are mostly in the financial sector and the Lord Mayor is regarded as the champion of the entire UK-based financial sector regardless of ownership or location throughout the country. As Leader of the Corporation of the City of London, the Lord Mayor serves as the key spokesman for the local authority and also has important ceremonial and social responsibilities. All Lord Mayors of London are apolitical.
The Lord Mayor of London typically delivers dozens of speeches and addresses per year, and attends many receptions and other events in London and beyond. Many incumbents of the office make overseas visits while Lord Mayor of London. The Lord Mayor, also ex-officio Chancellor of London's City University, is assisted in day-to-day administration by the Mansion House staff who are senior administrative personnel in the Corporation of London and whose titles include the Town Clerk and Chief Executive to Chamberlain and Remembrancer.
Of the 69 cities in the United Kingdom, the City of London is among the 30 that have Lord Mayors (or, in Scotland, Lords Provost). The Lord Mayor is entitled to the style The Right Honourable; the same privilege extends only to the Lord Mayors of York, Cardiff and Belfast, and to the Lords Provost of Edinburgh and Glasgow. The style, however, is used when referring to the office as opposed to the holder thereof; thus, "The Rt Hon Lord Mayor of London" would be correct, while "The Rt Hon Jeffrey Mountevans" would be incorrect. The latter prefix applies only to Privy Counsellors.
A woman who holds the office is also known as a Lord Mayor. The wife of a male Lord Mayor is styled as Lady Mayoress, but no equivalent title exists for the husband of a female Lord Mayor. A female Lord Mayor or an unmarried male Lord Mayor may appoint a female consort, usually a fellow member of the corporation, to the role of Lady Mayoress. In speech, a Lord Mayor is referred to as "My Lord Mayor", and a Lady Mayoress as "My Lady Mayoress".
It was once customary for Lord Mayors to be appointed knights upon taking office and baronets upon retirement, unless they already held such a title. This custom was followed with a few inconsistencies from the 16th until the 19th centuries; creations became more regular from 1889 onwards. However, from 1964 onwards, the regular creation of hereditary titles such as baronetcies was phased out, so subsequent Lord Mayors were offered knighthoods (and, until 1993, most often as Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE)). Since 1993, Lord Mayors have not automatically received any national honour upon appointment; instead, they have been made Knights Bachelor upon retirement, although Gordon Brown's Government broke with that tradition by making Ian Luder a CBE, after his term of office in 2009, and the following year Nick Anstee declined offers of an honour. Furthermore, foreign Heads of State visiting the City of London on a UK State Visit, diplomatically bestow upon the Lord Mayor one of their suitable national honours. For example, in 2001, Sir David Howard was created a Grand Cordon (First Class) of the Order of Independence of Jordan by King Abdullah II. Recently Lord Mayors have been appointed at the beginning of their term of office Knights or Dames of St John, as a mark of respect, by HM The Queen, Sovereign Head of the Order of St John.
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 (then serving his second of two terms) by King Edward III.
Copy of admission ticket as issued to the Chairman of P & O Navigation Company for Lord Mayor Sir Thomas Gabriel's reception of H.I.M. The Sultan Abd-ul-Aziz Khan at Guildhall, 18 July 1867
Lord Mayors are elected for one-year terms; by custom, they do not now serve more than one consecutive term. Numerous individuals have served multiple terms in office, including:
The Lord Mayor is elected at Common Hall, comprising liverymen belonging to all of the City's livery companies. Common Hall is summoned by the sitting Lord Mayor; it meets at Guildhall on Michaelmas Day (29 September) or on the closest weekday. Voting is by show of hands; if, however, any liveryman so demands, balloting is held a fortnight later.
The qualification to stand for election is that one must have served as a City Sheriff and be a current Alderman. Since 1385, prior service as Sheriff has been mandatory for election to the Lord Mayoralty. Two Sheriffs are selected annually by Common Hall, which meets on Midsummer's Day for this purpose. By an ordinance of 1435, the Lord Mayor must be chosen from amongst the Aldermen of the City of London. Those on the electoral roll of each of the City's 25 Wards select one Alderman, who formerly held office for life or until resignation. Now each Alderman must submit for re-election at least once in every six years.
The Lord Mayor is then sworn in November, on the day before the Lord Mayor's Show (see below). The ceremony is known as the "Silent Ceremony" because, aside from a short declaration by the incoming Lord Mayor, no speeches are made. At Guildhall, the outgoing Lord Mayor transfers the mayoral insignia — the seal, the purse, the sword and the mace — to the incoming Lord Mayor.
The day after being sworn in to office, the Lord Mayor leads a procession from the City of London to the Royal Courts of Justice in the City of Westminster, where the Lord Mayor swears allegiance to the Crown. This pageantry has evolved into one of London's longest-running and most popular annual events, known as the "Lord Mayor's Show". The Lord Mayor travels in the City's state coach that was built in 1757 at a cost of £1,065.0s.3d. (equivalent to £127,570 in 2016). Nowadays, this festival combines traditional British pageantry with the element of carnival, and since 1959 it has been held on the second Saturday in November. Participants include the livery companies, bands and members of the military, charities and schools. In the evening, a fireworks display is held.
The Lord Mayor is a member of the City of London's governing body, the City of London Corporation (incorporated as The Mayor and Commonalty and Citizens of the City of London). The Corporation comprises the Court of Aldermen and the Court of Common Council; the former includes only the Aldermen, while the latter includes both Aldermen and Common Councilmen. The Lord Mayor belongs to and presides over both bodies.
As noted earlier, the main role of the Lord Mayor is to represent, support and promote all aspects of UK-financial service industries, including maritime. They undertake this as head of the City of London Corporation and, during the year, host visiting foreign government ministers, businessmen and dignitaries; furthermore, they conduct several foreign visits of their own so as to promote British financial sectors.
Banquets hosted by the Lord Mayor serve as opportunities for senior Government figures to deliver major speeches. At the Lord Mayor's Banquet (held on the Monday after the Lord Mayor's Show), the Prime Minister delivers the keynote address. At the Banker's Dinner in June, the Chancellor of the Exchequer delivers a speech known as the "Mansion House Speech", which takes its name from the Lord Mayor's residence. At the Easter Banquet, also hosted each year at the Mansion House, the Foreign Secretary addresses an audience of international dignitaries.
The Lord Mayor's Collar of Esses may have once been used as the symbol of the office of Lord Chancellor by Sir Thomas More.
The residence of the Lord Mayor is known as Mansion House. The creation of the residence was considered after the Great Fire of London (1666), but construction did not commence until 1739. It was first occupied by a Lord Mayor in 1752, when Sir Crispin Gascoigne took up residence.
In each of the eighteen courtrooms of the Old Bailey, the centre of the judges' bench is reserved for the Lord Mayor, in his capacity of Chief Justice of the City of London. The presiding judge therefore sits to one side.
It is sometimes asserted that the Lord Mayor may exclude the monarch from the City of London. The legend is based on the misinterpretation of the ceremony observed each time the sovereign enters the City. At Temple Bar the Lord Mayor presents the City's pearl-encrusted sword of state to the sovereign as a symbol of the latter's overlordship. The monarch does not, as is often purported, wait for the Lord Mayor's permission to enter the City. When the sovereign enters the city, a short ceremony usually takes place where the Lord Mayor symbolically surrenders his or her authority to the monarch by presenting the sword to them. If the sovereign is attending a service at St Paul's this ceremony would take place there rather than at the boundary of the City for matters of convenience.
The importance of the office is reflected by the composition of the Accession Council, a body which proclaims the accession of new Sovereigns. The Council includes the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of London, as well as members of the House of Lords and Privy Counsellors. At the coronation banquet which followed, the Lord Mayor of the City of London had the right to assist the Royal Butler. The same privilege is held by the Lord Mayor of Oxford; the Mayor of Winchester may assist the Royal Cook. Such privileges have not been exercised since 1821, when the last coronation banquet (commemorating the coronation of George IV) was held.
The Lord Mayor still continues to wear a form of court dress long abandoned by many modern day officials on a regular, almost daily, basis. Their basic under dress is of the traditional black velvet court dress (old style) consisting of a coat, waistcoat and knee breeches with steel cut buttons. This is worn with black silk stockings, patent court shoes with steel buckles, white shirt with lace cuffs and a large jabot stock. This form of court dress is worn by all Lord Mayors regardless of gender.
Over his or her underdress for ceremonial occasions is worn a black silk damask robe trimmed with gold lace of a design exactly the same as that of the Lord Chancellor, known as the Entertaining Gown. When outdoors, they wear a black beaver plush tricorne hat trimmed with white (or black in the event of memorials and funerals) ostrich feathers and a steel 'loop' for the cockade. This has been traditionally made by Patey's commissioned by the Worshipful Company of Feltmakers for each incumbent Lord Mayor.
For State occasions when the monarch is present, the Lord Mayor, instead of the gold-lace robe, wears a crimson velvet cape trimmed with an ermine cape and facings that have black sealskin spots on, very similar to a royal earl's coronation robe. It is tied with gold cordons, and dates from the reign of George IV.
Since 1545 the Lord Mayor of London has worn a Royal Livery Collar of Esses. However, the collar's origins are not royal, Sir John Alleyn, thrice Lord Mayor, having bequeathed it to the next Lord Mayor and his successors "to use and occupie yerely at and uppon principall and festivall dayes." It was enlarged in 1567, and in its present shape has 28 Esses (the Lancastrian ‘S’), Tudor roses and the tasselled knots of the Garter (alternating) and also the Portcullis, from which hangs the Mayoral Jewel. The collar is worn over whatever the Lord Mayor maybe wearing, secured onto their underdress or State Robes by means of black or white silk satin ribbons on the shoulders.
At coronations, the Lord Mayor wears a special coronation robe made especially for the incumbent by Ede & Ravenscroft. This is a cape-like mantle of scarlet superfine wool trimmed with bars of gold lace and ermine spotted with black sealskin. It is lined with white silk satin; they also carry a baton of office. After the coronation, the incumbent may personally keep their coronation robe as a token.
The Lord Mayor's wardrobe also includes a scarlet gown and a violet gown, which are "aldermanic" and worn only at certain meetings of the Corporation of London as directed by the City Ceremonial Book. There is also a plain black gown, worn by the Lord Mayor in times of national mourning and/or grief.
^A more detailed account of the role of the Lord Mayor can be found in former Lord Mayor Sir John Stuttard's Whittington to World Financial Centre – The City of London and its Lord Mayor (2008 by Phillimore & Co) ISBN 978-1-86077-586-4.