Thursday, June 28, 2012

Big Ben Loses His Name....England Disappointed Me Today

I love all things British. It may be partly my heritage - half English/half Italian, that explains the visceral reaction I felt this afternoon when I read that Big Ben was losing its name.

The Italian side of me was angry, and the English half felt like I'd been punched in the gut. I want to know - did they ask the citizens? Did Parliament just make this decision unilaterally? I'm a fan of tradition, which includes KEEPING THE NAME AS IT IS! I've also been in favor of keeping the monarchy, which has been an ongoing, spirited debate among Brits.

I'm an audiobook addict, and I've had an insatiable interest in British royalty. I've listened to every book out there from William I to Henry VIII to our current Queen Elizabeth. I never grow tired of hearing a British narrator read to me about all of the lives of the Kings and Queens of this beloved country. I've had the absolute pleasure of visiting England and long to return someday.

It wouldn't be the same without Big Ben. I know he'll still be there, standing tall and strong, but without the same connotation. It's a symbol. A symbol of history, and it should be preserved. Europeans are better with preserving history than the US, as we're still a younger country in comparison, but it's part of the allure that brings tourists far and wide. Ben's name has been steeped in this history for generations, so why was it tinkered with?

I remember standing in awe at the enormity of that gorgeously crafted tower clock. I strolled the quaint streets of Stratford-upon-Avon, where the masterful wordsmith Shakespeare was born. I was mesmerized by the stories behind the Roman baths in the town of Bath. My mouth was agape with the pomp and circumstance of the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. I was greeted by the beefeaters that 'guard' the Tower of London as the ravens pierced me with their glares. I stood on the very spot where most of Henry VIII's doomed wives met their gruesome ends.

My husband tells me people will still call it Big Ben, but I'm not so convinced. It breaks my heart. Since it's a done deal, I can only hope my husband is right. I know I will ALWAYS refer to it by its given name.


  1. Great article Dawn! I was shocked when I heard this on the news the other day. I think it's awful to rename Big Ben. I expected more of an uproar from the citizens over there, but I haven't heard of any protests. Some just can't leave well-enough alone~

  2. Dawn, I agree with your hubby; I think people will always call it Big Ben most of the time! I'm an Anglophile myself which is why my books are set there. The first one is in Oxford and the second in the Lake District. I think maybe I lived there in another life ...

  3. Wow. A group from my church have just come back from visiting England, and I'm surprised they didn't say anything about this (though maybe they didn't know either). If the tower were built in Queen Elizabeth's honor (or if it was /only/ famous among history buffs), I wouldn't mind it being called the Queen Elizabeth Tower, but Big Ben is its own thing that has a history that is much longer than Queen Elizabeth...
    I think there will be a long time yet that the tower is still called Big Ben. I don't know if it will be forever called Big Ben even though that isn't its official name (I'm sure if Big Ben were in the US it wouldn't forever hold its original name, but maybe in England there is hope.).

  4. Good article, Dawn! I love many things British too; It's a sad day when they think one of their icons needs a new name. Big Ben will probably always be thought of as Big Ben, no matter what name they put on the tower.