Big Ben may be renamed to honor queen

March 24, 2012 at 12:43 AM   |   Comments

LONDON, March 24 (UPI) -- A group of British legislators want to rename one of London's most famous landmarks, Big Ben, to honor Queen Elizabeth II.

In an early day motion, a term for a single-sentence motion that is tabled and rarely comes up for debate, 23 members of Parliament said renaming the east tower of the Houses of Parliament the Elizabeth Tower would be an appropriate gesture in her Diamond Jubilee Year, The Guardian reported Friday. They pointed out that the west tower was named after Queen Victoria in 1860 and paid tribute to the reigning queen's "energy, wisdom and grace."

Most of the group are Conservatives, although Jack Straw, a Labor foreign secretary, endorsed the proposal.

While Big Ben technically refers only to the bell that rings out the famous chimes, the name is also used for the clock and the tower, now know as Clock Tower.

Graham Smith of Republic, a group that wants to abolish the monarchy, called the plan "crass and profoundly inappropriate."

"That Parliament is there for everybody and the idea that you're going to turn a major feature of our Parliament into a tribute to an unelected, unaccountable head of state completely stands against absolutely everything that democracy's about," Smith said. "It's absolutely obscene."

Elizabeth has reigned longer than any other British sovereign except Victoria, her great-great-grandmother. But she has also reigned with less power than any other British monarch as a strictly symbolic figure.

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