Big Ben’s tower to be renamed after Queen Elizabeth

The Twitterati have already dubbed it Big Betty and Large Liz.

The clock tower housing Big Ben will be renamed the Elizabeth Tower, a parliamentary official confirmed on Tuesday.


Flags are seen above a souvenir kiosk near Big Ben clock at the Houses of Parliament in central London. (Paul Hackett/Reuters)

But a poll last month found that the public wasn’t as taken with the idea of changing the name of the famous landmark — often used alongside red phone booths and black taxi cabs as a symbol for Britain — with 44 percent opposing the name change and 30 percent supporting it.

“The House of Commons Commission welcomed the proposal to rename the Clock Tower Elizabeth Tower in recognition of HM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and will arrange for this decision to be implemented in an appropriate manner in due course,” a House of Commons spokesman said.

The east tower of Westminster is actually called the Clock Tower, although many people incorrectly refer to it as Big Ben, the nickname given to the 13-ton bell housed within the tower.

British politicians have something of a penchant for renaming towers after monarchs. In 1860, the west tower of Westminster was renamed the Victoria Tower after Queen Victoria, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.

The reaction has been mixed on Twitter, where a parody account called “Big Ben is Angry” was quickly up and running:

Why hasn’t Stonehenge been renamed? I ‘rock’ way harder.

— Big Ben is Angry (@BigBenIsAngry) June 26, 2012

Others suggested the queen’s work doesn’t merit its own landmark:

Big Ben’s to be renamed the Elizabeth Tower, after the queen. Once the name’s changed, like her, the clock will no longer work.

— Neal Mayhem (@MinutesofMayhem) June 27, 2012

London’s “Big Ben” clock tower is going to be renamed Elizabeth Tower because the queen does so much. Waving is a lot of work you know.

— ~rice cooker~ (@awkwardnoodles) June 26, 2012

It’s unclear if the new name will catch on, or if people will continue to refer to the tower as Big Ben.

Olga Khazan contributed to this report.

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Karla Adam is a reporter in the Washington Post’s London bureau. Before joining the Post in 2006, she worked as a freelancer in London for the New York Times and People magazine.

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