This week, the British government announced that the iconic clock tower known as Big Ben, one of London's most recognizable monuments, would henceforth be known as Elizabeth Tower, in commemoration of Queen Elizabeth's 60 years on the throne. Prime Minister David Cameron said that the renaming was a "fitting recognition of the Queen's 60 years of service." However, the Queen's subjects aren't thrilled: Polls show that 44 percent of Brits oppose the name change, while only 30 percent support it. The British media has already dubbed the rechristened tower Large Liz, while Twitter has been clogged with tweets bemoaning the change. Is renaming Big Ben a bad idea?
Technically, Big Ben's name hasn't been changed: While Londoners and tourists alike have "long used the alliterative moniker to refer to the entire structure," Big Ben actually refers to the massive 13.5-ton bell within it, says Slate. Prior to the name change, the tower itself was called the Clock Tower. And Big Ben is not the first tower at Westminster, the seat of Parliament, to be renamed after a queen. In 1897, the tower opposite from Big Ben was renamed Victoria Tower, after the country's longest-ruling monarch.
"Big Ben tower to be renamed in honor of queen"
Still, this messes with history: Big Ben "has been one of the most recognized landmarks in Britain since it was completed in 1859," says The Vancouver Courier. "Why mess with tradition?" In an age when "names have become little more than interchangeable brands," it's a shame to change a name that stretches back that far. Besides, "what does a clock tower built in 1859 have to do with a monarch whose reign began nearly 100 years later?"
Relax. People will still call it Big Ben: British lawmakers "have accepted that the iconic tower, which sounds out the hours over central London with distinctive 'bongs,' will continue to be known colloquially as Big Ben," says Agence France Presse. Some things will never change.
"Big Ben to be renamed after Queen"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Syrian women know how to defeat ISIS
- The U.S. Marines are developing laser weapons. Here's why.
- 10 things you need to know today: October 21, 2014
- The one thing the New Atheists get right about religion
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Paul Krugman, Amazon, and the left's backwards view of book-industry titans
- Gamergate has backfired spectacularly on its nincompoop perpetrators
- Why the Supreme Court is allowing Texas to hold an unconstitutional election
Subscribe to the Week