The Sovereign's Entry into the City of London
Whenever the Sovereign wishes to enter the City of London on state occasions, he or she is met by the Lord Mayor at the site of Temple Bar,* which marks the City boundary. First the Sword and Mace are reversed; then the Lord Mayor surrenders the City's Pearl Sword as a symbol of the Sovereign's over-riding authority.
* (Temple Bar - the gateway (removed in 1879) that marked the westward limit of the City Corporation's jurisdiction, at the junction of Fleet Street and the Strand in London.)
The City Sword is held pointing downwards. The Sovereign then touches its hilt and returns it immediately. On receiving it back, the Lord Mayor bears it before the Sovereign, after which the royal party is allowed entry.
This custom dates back to 1588, on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth's drive to Old St. Paul's* to give thanks for the defeat of the Spanish Armada.**
* (Old St. Paul's - the great medieval church in London, which was burned down in the Great Fire of 1666; a new St. Paul's Cathedral was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and built in 1675-1697; the earliest recorded church on the site dates back to the 9th century.)
** (Spanish Armada - a great fleet prepared for the conquest of England in 1588, by Philip of Spain; it was defeated by the English and the weather.)
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