Little Known Facts About London


Do you know why does the British monarch celebrate two birthdays each year?
The British monarch celebrates two birthdays – the Sovereign’s actual birthday and an official birthday. The latter always takes place on a Saturday in June. The reason for an official birthday to be introduced in the summer is that there is a greater likelihood of dry and sunny weather for the Birthday parade, known as Trooping the Colour. The monarch’s actual birthday is usually celebrated privately.


Do you know why the horses of the Household Cavalry are black?
Most horses in the Household Cavalry are black and there is a reason for this. It is believed that this tradition dates back to the reign of Charles II who thought that they looked more intimidating in battle. It is only the drummers and trumpeters who ride grey horses. 


Do you know that the City of London is an independent city-state within Greater London?
The City of London is the place where the ancient Romans founded London under the name of Londinium in the 1st century. Also known as the “Square Mile”, the City is completely independent, similarly to the Vatican and Rome. It has its own government headed by the Lord Mayor who is different from the Mayor of London. According to tradition, dating back to the 16th century, when the reigning Sovereign enters the City, the Lord Mayor offers the Pearl Sword to the monarch who touches it.


Do you know that the Marble Arch once stood in front of the Buckingham Palace?
The Marble Arch, which now stands next to Hyde Park, was once a triumphal gateway to the Buckingham Palace. It was in 1851 when the arch was moved to its present location. Legend has it that Queen Victoria didn’t like the construction and in order to get rid of it, asked for a new carriage which was so big that it couldn’t pass under the arch. The real reason for its relocation, though, was the need for space due to enlargement of the Palace.


Do you know that during the State Opening of the Parliament a hostage is kept at the Buckingham Palace?

The State Opening of the Parliament is one of the truly spectacular traditional ceremonies when the Sovereign opens the new session of Parliament. Before the Monarch travels to Parliament, certain precautions are taken. The cellars of the Houses of Parliament are thoroughly searched and a Member of Parliament is taken hostage at the Buckingham Palace to guarantee the safe return of the Monarch. These traditions were introduced after the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 when a group of Catholics tried to blow up Parliament and kill the Protestant King James I.