UPDATE: 21st Sept 2020
The “for TV only” version of the parade to be held in Guildhall Yard has also been cancelled due to the covid situation.
Due to you-know-what, the annual spectacle of a 3-mile long parade through central London is not going to happen this year. The Lord Mayor’s Show is both a public spectacle dating back centuries, but also a formal process where the Lord Mayor formally swears their oaths of office.
In its exceptionally long history, the Parade has only been cancelled a handful of times.
The first date that we know that it was cancelled was in 1625 due to an outbreak of plague, then again between 1639 to 1660 due to Puritans frowning on fun. Plague again stopped the parade in 1665.
It was not until 1830 that the parade would be cancelled again, this time due to the political situation at the time causing concerns about large crowds gathering in the City agitating against the Wellington–Peel government, and anger that the new King, William IV had declined to visit the City shortly after accending to the throne.
WW2 shook things up dramatically as you might have expected.
The parade was cancelled in 1939 – when the Lord Mayor, Sir William Coxen drove in a car to the Law Courts to swear the oath of office, accompanied by four members of the London Rifle Brigade in plain khaki uniforms.
It was cancelled in 1940, but resumed in 1941 and 1942, but was cancelled again in 1943 and 1944.
It was back in a reduced form in 1945 – with the Lord Mayor in a car instead of a stagecoach – and the Mace of Office ended up poking out of a window.
But thing’s were back to full pre-war pomp in 1946, and have been ever since.
Now 2020 has been added to that ignoble timeline of cancelled parades.
There will however be a smaller private version happening, which will be broadcast on BBC1 – who normally broadcast the public parade anyway.
What’s being planned is a smaller parade within Guildhall courtyard, which will not be open to the public the attend, and can only be watched on television.
The theme of the mini-show will be a tribute, on behalf of the City of London and the Lord Mayor, to all key workers and their organisations for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As well as representatives from NHS frontline staff, the Show is expected to include a military band, charitable organisations, and the Lord Mayor’s Pikemen and Musketeers. So while much smaller than usual, it will still include all the pomp and costumes that make the Lord Mayor’s Show so popular to watch.
Another historic event takes place this year, as subject to his formal re-election later this month, William Russell, the current, and 692nd Lord Mayor, will serve an additional year in office.
This is significant as it’s the first time a Lord Mayor has served for more than one year since William Cubitt in 1860-61. In fact, there have been just 38 other Lord Mayors of London who have served more than one year in its 831-year history.