Big Ben to be permanently decked out with St. George's flags, Parliament chiefs announce

Posted On: 
11th July 2018

Big Ben will be permanently adorned with St George's flags following its multi-million pound redesign, it has been announced.

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Credit: 
The House of Commons

The iconic Elizabeth Tower is currently covered in scaffolding as it undergoes a major four-year restoration project, and its familiar chimes will remain mostly silent until the 2020s.

Just hours before England’s World Cup semi-final showdown with Croatia, the House of Commons announced that the £61m refit would see the return of six St George’s Cross shields above each of Big Ben’s clock faces.

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The inclusion of the shields comes as part of efforts to restore the tower to its original 1859 design by Palace of Westminster architect Charles Barry.

The clock dial’s frames and hands will be fully repainted in a bid to return the tower to its former Victorian glory, Commons chiefs announced, with Parliament’s present-day principal architect Adam Watrobski saying his team had "carried out extensive research into the original decorative scheme" to get Big Ben in shape.

He added: "The dials and clock hands are Prussian blue and gold and the adjacent areas make use of the red, white and blue colours of the Union flag, along with the detail colours used for heraldic shields for each part of the United Kingdom.

"The existing gilded areas closely match those that were gilded and these have not changed significantly during the life of the Tower. This will very much be the crowning glory of this important project and will certainly serve to reinforce the symbolism of the Tower in its international representation of the United Kingdom."

Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake, speaking for the House of Commons Commission said he was "thrilled to see these vital restoration works return the clock tower to its former glory".

He added: "It is crucial that these conservation works now continue so we can ensure the long-term sustainability of Big Ben and safeguard it for future generations to enjoy."