The Lord Mayor’s Show, which rolls through the City’s streets each year, is loved the world over and regarded as the classic piece of English pageantry in the UK calendar.
Since 1215, every newly-elected Lord Mayor has left the Square Mile and travelled to the Royal Courts of Justice in Westminster to swear loyalty to the Crown.
Over the centuries this journey has become London's oldest street party. It moved from river barges to horseback and then into the State Coach - and around it grew a joyful medieval festival known as the Lord Mayor's Show.
This year is my 24th year as pageantmaster, organising and running the Lord Mayor’s Show. Coordinating such a big event, with such an important history, is a major logistical challenge.
There is a lot of work put into the preparations, from more than 150 organisations that are involved. But for me, the key to getting the big set-piece parts right lies in what’s known as the early morning rehearsal - some of which you can see in the video below.
This is vital to the success of the show. It’s the only time both the horses - and of course the new Lord Mayor - can get used to handling the beautiful state coach, which dates back to 1757.
It’s also the only time the new Lord Mayor can practice getting in and out of the coach and the major ceremonial duties that he will have to perform on the day, such as inspecting the guard of honour outside The Mansion House.
It is a great privilege to have been doing this job for so long. My father did it for the 20 years before I began the role and so my family has been doing this job for 44 years – longer than anybody else in history.
But the real magic of the show lies in the people to whom it gives a voice. This year’s pageant is 7,000 strong, and returning military service personnel, charities, schools and community groups all have a platform.
To celebrate the 800 anniversary, St Mary-le-Bow church will ring out a special 800-change at noon, and Sir Peter Blake has created a special piece artwork for the Show, following in the footsteps of Hogarth and Canaletto.
The pageant today is more popular and relevant than it has ever been. It has incredible public support, and I am proud of the enduring appetite that the people have for it. Around half a million spectators line the streets each year to watch the procession and the fireworks later in the day, and millions more watch live on television.
This year’s show is set to be the most spectacular in its history.