Big Ben to Become the Elizabeth Tower in Honor of the Queen

The tower housing Big Ben, the backdrop to millions of tourist photos every year, is poised for a right royal re-brand.

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Toby Melville / Reuters

London's Big Ben

On Monday, lawmakers passed a motion officially renaming Big Ben, the iconic London landmark, the “Elizabeth Tower” in honor of Her Majesty’s 60th year on the throne. More than half of Parliament’s 650 MPs supported the proposal. “The renaming of the Clock Tower to the Elizabeth Tower is a fitting recognition of the Queen’s 60 years of service,” Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement. “This is an exceptional tribute to an exceptional Monarch.”

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Politicians know full well that tourists and London residents alike will still call the 96-meter (315-foot) tower “Big Ben.” But they won’t be far off the mark. “Big Ben” technically refers to the massive bell perched on top of the tower, which itself is officially known as the “Clock Tower.” The name “Elizabeth Tower” only affects the latter designation.

The name change mirrors a tribute made to Queen Victoria—the only other monarch to ever celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. In the 19th century, officials at the Houses of Parliament renamed the King’s Tower, which is situated at the southwest end of the complex, the Victoria Tower.

Despite its rebrand, the Elizabeth Tower doesn’t merely honor its new namesake. The tower’s clock also pays homage to Liz’s great-great-grandmother through inscriptions at the base of each of the clock dials. “DOMINE SALVAM FAC REGINAM NOSTRAM VICTORIAM PRIMAM,” they read. “O Lord, keep safe our Queen Victoria the First.”

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