Last updated on March 5th, 2021
The Lord Mayor of London, Andrew Parmley, and I go back a long way. To 2003 precisely when he was known simply as Dr Parmley, or Dr P. I would be invited to his office on an all-too regular basis to discuss the very bad behaviour of my eldest, Clarissa. He was head of the Senior School at Harrodian in Barnes back then, and he is still sorely missed. London will no doubt miss him too when he ends his mayoral shift on the 10 November and hands the reins over to Charles Bowman after the annual Lord Mayor’s Show.
The Lord Mayor of London
Not to be confused with the Mayor of London who is Sadiq Khan, the Lord Mayor of London is head of the City of London and the City of London Corporation. It is one of the world’s oldest job functions, and Andrew Parmley is the 689th to hold the title.
The Lord Mayor is elected on Michaelmas every year (29 September). He or she takes office on the Friday before the second Saturday in November (which this year falls on November 10). This is known as the Silent Ceremony because no speeches are made. The outgoing Lord Mayor hands over the seal, purse, pearl sword and mace to the incoming Lord Mayor.
The day after is the Lord Mayor’s Show when he travels in the City’s state coach to the Royal Courts of Justice on Strand to take office.
What does the Lord Mayor do?
Well, he makes rather a lot of speeches, so fear of public speaking would be a big no-no. He won’t go hungry or thirsty during his year in office, as he attends what must feel like jillions of receptions and events. And then there are the planes, trains and automobiles: Andrew Parmley visited 33 countries in the last nine months. Of course, there’s all the pomp and pageantry: Parmley refers to himself as the man who wears “funny clothes.”
But in reality, the Lord Mayor’s job is to sell London around the globe. It’s an intensive 12-month tenure which requires diplomacy, cultural acumen and a sterling knowledge of business.
Andrew Parmley is the first teacher and musician to take the office of Lord Mayor. He has a not-so-secret passion for music, working with the London Symphony Orchestra and a charity called Music in Hospitals, which provides therapy through music. He also knows how to play the organ rather well and not just any organ: he’s tickled the ivories of St Paul’s Cathedral, no less. My second daughter Eloise, also an ex-Harrodian, was lucky enough to have a private tour of the cathedral with Dr Parmley a few years ago, a day she still remembers as a serious stand-out. He’s also been the organist at St James Garlickhythe Church for the last 35 years.
The Big Cheese
Dr Parmley has fearlessly roared on behalf of London around the globe, but back at home he had a couple of hairy experiences. He abseiled down the Leadenhall Building (aka the Cheesegrater) recently, which was the second scariest thing he ever did. And the scariest? Carrying the pearl sword in front of Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in St Paul’s, pimped up to the nines with tights and slip-on shoes!
“London is the greatest city on the planet”
Sadly, it’s now time for Dr P to take a bow form his Mercurian duties and hang up his winged slip-ons. I think he deserves a night in with a nice cuppa and some BBC Radio 3 don’t you think?
So Long and Farewell to our 689th Lord Mayor of London, Dr Andrew Parmley (and a big THANK YOU!)
The Lord Mayor’s Show 2017
You can catch the Lord Mayor’s Show on Saturday, November 11. It kicks off at 9am with a flotilla on the Thames, casting off from Westminster Bridge towards Tower Bridge.
At 11am, the Procession sets off from Mansion House to the Royal Courts and then returns via Victoria Embankment at 1pm. The pageantry is followed by a cracking night of fireworks at 5.15 between Blackfriars and Waterloo. For the best views, book a Grandstand seat. Visit the Lord Mayor’s Show website here.