A tour of the Houses of Parliament, or by its proper name ‘The Palace of Westminster’ leads you through a journey into the history of the English Monarchy. Through the yearly State Opening the Palace of Westminster brings back the historical traditions. During my visit our tour guide told us many memorable facts, 10 of which, I thought were the most intriguing from a foreign perspective are:
10 Interesting facts I found out from the tour:
- The royal family name is the House of Windsor however up until 1917 the Royal family name was the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
- Inside the Palace of Westminster there are several Frescos paintings made by William Dyce, however there were difficulties in drying and preserving paintings in London’s damp and cold climate. Therefore people are working on them to this day to make it look as good as it looked when initially painted.
- When Margret thatcher saw here statue for the first time she made a comment regarding how the statue is made of bronze but as she was known as “the Iron Lady” in her time she thought it could have been made of iron.
- The queen visits the Palace of Westminster only once every year for the State Opening – pictures of the state opening
- On the State Opening of the Houses of Parliament one of the ministers leave for the Buckingham Palace as a ‘hostage’ when the Queen goes to visit the Palace of Westminster as a symbolic guarantee for the safe return of the monarch.
- From around 1649 UK was ruled as a republic of the Commonwealth of England, however the parliament later decided in restoring the monarch in 1660.
- Parliament is split into two houses: the House of Lords and the House of Commons, both houses differ distinctly in their design and color scheme. The House of Lords is decorated in red while the House of Commons is decorated in green tough there is no official reasoning given. Some of the theories for the houses of commons are 1) Green is a cheaper dye than red 2) Green is the color of grass and so symbolic of the countryside 3) Green is distinctly opposite color of Red – pick which one you prefer!
- From the public gallery you can view debates held at the House of Commons and the House of Lords Chambers (this is what you see on TV).
- The public gallery in the House of Commons is separates from the Chamber by bulletproof glass. This is due to the infamous incident which forces a review of security procedures.
- There are 650 members of the House of Commons but the Commons Chamber can only accommodate for around 427 people.
As seen in much of London, the Houses of Parliament are not the singular attraction in Westminster with the London Eye located a five minutes walk away and a night view of London from the London Eye is just astonishing and cannot be captured as well in a picture despite my attempts. Also Trafalgar square is in walking distance and its always fun to walk around places, absorb the area and spot interesting things around.