The lord mayor’s show, which its current website extols as “the oldest, longest, grandest and most popular civic procession in the world,” has brightened the streets of London since King John made the city’s mayorship an elected office in 1215. A mayor at his inauguration was required to travel from his home ward to Westminster to pledge his loyalty to the crown, going on horseback or by barge along the Thames in sumptuous livery. Further pomp was supplied by the accompanying procession, with its dramatic pageants and tableaux of islands, temples and wildernesses, its dancing and singing. The main aim, of course, was to establish the power and authority of the office of mayor and to reinforce the social hierarchy. Nonetheless, the entertainments, coupled with the rare opportunity to see the people who governed them, made the lord mayor’s show a hotly anticipated event among the public.
Watch the procession at the 2011 lord mayor's show.