Lord Mayor’s Show 2019: The history

Thousands of people turned out to watch the Lord Mayor’s Show, one of the oldest traditions in London.

What is it?

The Lord Mayor’s Show is one of the biggest, loudest and most colourful events in London’s calendar.

The show is an annual celebration that takes place in the City of London and celebrates the appointment of a new Lord Mayor. 

By tradition, the Lord Mayor’s Show allows the new Lord Mayor to ‘show’ himself or herself to the people of the City.

This year, it brings together over 6,500 people, 120 horses, and over 60 decorated floats in a yearly event that dates back to the 13th century. 


Who is the Lord Mayor? 

William Russell was elected the 692nd Lord Mayor of the City of London this past October.

He has a history in the finance sector, and was elected Alderman for the Ward of Bread Street in March 2013.

He’s served on the City of London Corporation Committees including Culture, Heritage and Libraries, Finance, the Education Board, Planning and Transportation, Policy and Resources and the Livery Committee.

The Lord Mayor has a responsibility of improving and contributing to the City of London and the UK. The key themes of William Russell’s year in office are championing innovation, growing our global trade and investment, and promoting culture and the arts – all of which give towards making the UK a place to live, learn, work, and visit.


The history

The festivities date back 800 years, when King John was persuaded to let the City of London choose its own mayor.

The original Lord Mayor’s show was on the Thames. Boats would be filled with people who would float down the river for the annual precession. This is why the decorated platforms either on trucks or towed behind vehicles are now called floats. 

This was approved on the condition that the new mayor would travel from the city to Westminster to swear his loyalty to the Crown.

After the parade was moved from the Thames to the city streets, the Lord Mayor would ride on a horse through the parade but after an incident when as drunk flower stall owner knocked the Lord Mayor off his horse, it was decided that the Mayor should ride in a State Coach.

The Golden State Coach has been used in every Lord Mayor’s show since 1957. It is the oldest working ceremonial coach in the world.  The Coach itself weighs three tonnes and moves at five miles an hour. It is pulled by six horses, not because of its weight but due to the high rank the Lord Mayor holds.

Who was there?

This year’s show was not one to be missed. The new Lord Mayor looked in great spirits as the masses of crowds welcomed his new position. 

The parade started with an Air Bus A400 M Atlas plane of the Royal Air Force flying over the city while the band of The Scot’s Guards started to play and kicked off the march.

The participants, organisations and floats were a colourful bunch. A real mix of art, entertainment and history. From Girl Guides to charities such as Places2be, who were dressed up as sailors. Places2be is the leading national children’s mental health charity. 

The Guild of Young Freemen of the City of London also took part: 

Several schools took part including Haberdasher’s Adams and Knightsbridge school. Big names such as Fortnum & Mason, The Bank of England, British Red Cross, Dogs Trust and British airways all took part in the Lord Mayor’s show. 


One of the main highlights was from the China Chamber of Commerce. The group displayed a 16-metre-long Chinese dragon. The bright colours lighting up the streets of London on the cloudy day. The Chinese dragon symbolises luck, love, power and nobility.


As well as featuring a giant purple robot which the public became fond of: 


The parade celebrates the diversity of London and the UK. It felt like a community among the crowds watching. A great day for celebrating with smiles and cheers all round. 

This tradition is set to return November 2020. If it is anything like this year it’s not one to be missed.


Words: Jessica Pennell

Photograph: Canva



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