Big Ben tower to be renamed after Queen Elizabeth II
LONDON - Agence France-Presse
REUTERS PhotoBritain's famous parliament clock tower is to be renamed Elizabeth Tower in honour of the queen's diamond jubilee, officials announced on Tuesday.
The change comes after dozens of lawmakers signed up to a campaign to change the name of the tower -- officially named the Clock Tower but commonly known as Big Ben -- in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's 60th year on the throne.
Big Ben is technically the name of the huge bell at the top of the 96-metre (316-foot) tower, one of London's best-loved landmarks.
"The House of Commons Commission welcomed the proposal to rename the Clock Tower Elizabeth Tower in recognition of HM The Queen's Diamond Jubilee, and will arrange for this decision to be implemented in an appropriate manner in due course," a spokesman said.
Lawmakers have accepted that the iconic tower, which sounds out the hours over central London with distinctive "bongs", will continue to be known colloquially as Big Ben.
The change mirrors an honour bestowed on queen Victoria -- the only other British monarch to celebrate a diamond jubilee back in 1897 -- who gives her name to the other tower at the west end of parliament.
A spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron said the name change was "a fitting tribute to the queen and the service she has given to our country in this Jubilee year".
In January, lawmakers met to discuss how to manage a 0.26 degree tilt to the tower, which looms over the 19-century Gothic revival parliament.
The tilt to the north-west has increased very slightly since 2003, although an expert study found it was unlikely to be a problem for 10,000 years.
There are two competing theories of how the bell came to be known as Big Ben.
The most likely explanation is that it was named after Benjamin Hall, the engineer whose name is inscribed on the bell, but some believe it is named after Ben Caunt, a champion heavyweight boxer of the 1850s.
Britain held four days of jubilee celebrations at the beginning of June, including a spectacular 1000-boat pageant on the River Thames and a star-studded concert at Buckingham Palace.
The monarch and her husband Prince Philip are in Northern Ireland on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of a nationwide jubilee tour, while other royals are travelling the globe.