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April 6, 2016

The City of London has a photographer in residence, and the results are as ridiculous as you'd imagine

By Barbara Speed

London, eh? Home to millions of people, and almost as many cultures and backgrounds.

But today, we’re not here to talk about London. We’re here to talk about the City of London, a small patch of London’s centre run by the City of London Corporation. It has its own police force and mayor, next-to-no bins, and a vast amount of strange, red-and-mink edged tradition. The City of London Corporation also has its own official photographer, much like the queen or your graduation. 

Here are the area and and its boundaries: 

Image: Google, edited.

Unseen City, running at the Guildhall Art Gallery until 31 July 2016, is an exhibition of current City of London photographer Martin Parr’s finest snaps. They depict ludicrous pomp and display within what is officially known as London’s “ceremonial county”, but also take a look behind the scenes at the (equally ludicrous) work that goes into the City’s events. 

Here, for starters, is a scene from the election of Alan Yarrow, the Lord Mayor for 2014-15 (and the 687th of all time) in 2014: 

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Yarrow (on the left, in a similar red cloak to his predecessor Fiona Woolf, shown above) looks relatively business-like. Quite a few bows, velvet and fur for your average daytime event, but fair enough, it’s his big day! More confusing is the man next to him who is attempting to steal his thunder with the help of a bearskin hat and very small bouquet.

There are also a few photos from the Lord Mayor’s show, the annual public parade held around the Lord Mayor’s inauguration. Here are a load of mayory types getting excited at the show in 2013:

Meanwhile, us plebs wait excitedly behind fences with union jacks and anoraks, waiting for our new mayoral overlord to pass by: 

In this photo taken during the St Matthew’s Day Parade, it is revealed that the mayor’s ceremonial mace (a special ornamental staff made of gold which has no real function) has its own car:

Sometimes the Queen shows up, as in this ceremony for the 650th anniversary of the Drapers’ Livery

Bit underdressed there Liz, to be honest. 

All images: Martin Parr/Magnum Photos.


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