SPOTLIGHT: 26 June, 2007
A Royal Summons by Burlington Bertie.
to Buckingham Palace
ondon visitors will witness an important event in the Britain's political life this week; a change in Prime Minister. After 10 years at the helm, Tony Blair steps down as Prime minister and moves out from his official residence at No.10 Downing Street in Whitehall. Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, will move in from his official residence next door at No.11, as the newly appointed Prime Minister.
Visiting Whitehall & Downing Street
London Transport: Nearest Tubes: Charing Cross, (Northern and Bakerloo Lines), for access from Trafalgar Square; Westminster, (Jubilee, Circle and District Lines), for access from Parliament Square; St. James's Park, (Circle and District Lines), for access from St. James's Park. Westminster also gives access to the houses of Parliament.
Burlington Bertie's Accommodation Choice:2 Spring Gardens, Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square leads on to Whitehall. Located on the south side of Trafalgar Square next to Canada House, this unbranded Hilton Hotel hides spacious, ultra modern, interiors behind its deceptive historic facade. The sleek minimalist comfort of the en-suite bedrooms with their state-of-the-art electronic gadgetry will appeal to modernists. The award-winning chic-gothic black and red bar is popular with London's chic-gothic set who burn it up to music from London's top DJs spinning jazz-funk, boogie-stomp and electro house or chill out to downbeat smoky smoothies. Come up for fresh air at the roof garden champagne bar overlooking the Square. It has surely one of the finest panoramic urban views in London, (shake hands with Lord Nelson atop his column).
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This change involves significent ritual and ceremony at Buckingham Palace, as the Prime Minister is not elected to that office by the populace, but is in fact appointed by Her Majesty The Queen as sovereign Head of State.
Having resigned as Leader of the ruling Labour Party and watched the unopposed election of his colleague Gordon Brown to be Party Leader last weekend, Tony Blair will be driven in the bullet-proof prime ministerial limousine to the Palace on Wednesday afternoon. At an audience with The Queen he will then formally resign as Her appointed First Minister and return his Seal of Office to Her.
It is The Queen's prerogative at this time to call whomsoever She wishes to form Her government. It is however a part of the historic parliamentary checks and balances of the British parliamentary democratic system that have evolved over the past two centuries between sovereign and state, that the monarch is obliged to call the leader of the political Party which has the voting majority in the elected House of Commons. For this reason, whatever Her own political views, (and as the unelected Head of State and of the established Church of England, the British sovereign can have no publicly expressed political Party affiliations), The Queen will necessarily call the Leader of the majority Party in the House of Commons; in this case Gordon Brown. It is the majority Party Leader, and only the Leader, who will have the necessary voting backing in the House of Commons to form a government.
Gordon Brown will therefore be sitting in his best suit at No.11 Downing Street on Wednesday awaiting a summons by The Queen to an audience at Buckingham Palace. She will call as soon as Tony Blair has left the Palace. As plain Mr Blair, he will leave the prime ministerial limousine in the Palace forecourt, returning to Downing Street in another car to pack his toothbrush and retire to his newly converted private residence near Marble Arch.
At his private audience with The Queen, Gordon Brown will doubtlessly accept Her Majesty's request to take office. He will be handed his ministerial Seal of Office, swear fealty to Her Majesty as Head of State and, followed by television cameras, return in the waiting bullet-proof limousine to No.10 Downing Street as Prime Minister. There he will pose and smile confidently for the cameras, before stepping over the threshhold.
There will be considerable interest in the live coverage of the House of Commons when Tony Blair rises up from his position on the Front Bench for the last time at the weekly Wednesday Prime Minister's Question Time, and again on the following week when his appointed successor Gordon Brown bats the questions. Question time is normally a cut and thrust, point scoring affair, when the Prime Minister and his opponents play to the gallery. We can expect this occasion to be carefully orchestrated by Blair's Party; short on controversy, long on unctuous praise by the Blair Faithful.
The Queen's new Prime Minister will have just a few weeks to settle in and appoint his own cabinet of senior ministers, before Parliament is prerogued by Her Majesty and rises for its annual summer recess.
A new Parliament will be called by The Queen in the autumn, when we shall witness the full Royal pageantry of the annual State Opening of Parliament.
From the magnificent State throne designed by Pugin that dominates the imposing Victorian neo-gothic interior of the chamber of the House of Lords, Her Majesty will summon members of the House of Commons to hear her deliver 'The Queen's Speech'. Although She reads it, the speech is in fact written by Her Prime Minister and cabinet and will be an outline of his policies and the legislative programme he proposes to enact in Her Name during the forthcoming parliamentary session. It is then that we shall see the measure of Gordon Brown and of his political opponents. 'The Queen's Speech' will debated at length over some days following the State Opening by both Houses of Parliament; a chance for Members of Parliament to speak on any matter of government policy and an opportunity for us to see just what Gordon Brown is made of. He has been waiting in the wings for ten long years to show us.
Whitehall Offtolondon guide to the visitor attractions in Whitehall.
Leaving 10 Downing street The Rise and Fall of 12 Prime Ministers and their departure from No.10 Downing Street.
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