Most people, including the majority of Brits, think that the ‘City of London’ refers to the whole of central London. Even those that understand that the ‘City’ is a separate location, within Greater London, don’t realise that it is a completely autonomous entity with it’s own flag, crest and Mayor. It even has it’s own government, military and police force.
The City’s coat of arms has been “anciently recorded” since at least 1381. The shield combines the English cross of St George with the sword of Saint Paul. It is supported by two dragons with the motto “Domine Dirige Nos” or “Lord, direct us”.
It governs itself and although the King is the only person who outranks the Lord Mayor in the City, he still has to request the Lord Mayor’s permission to enter. The Lord Mayor then greets the Sovereign at the City limits before presenting them with the Pearl Sword of the City and allowing them entry.
The City of London is the only part of the UK over which parliament has no authority.
This is a map of Greater London with the river Thames running through the middle of it. It is roughly 607 square miles and consists of 32 boroughs and the City. The area shaded in red is the City of London, an enclave within London itself.
This small area, often known as the ‘Square Mile’, has been of significant importance since the Roman times. It is arguably the most (or at least one of the most) important square miles in the entire world. Within its boundaries are institutions and businesses that exert an immense amount of power and control over the world, including:
the Bank of England;
one of the top global financial centres (over 500 banks);
London Stock Exchange;
headquarters for much of the insurance industry (including Lloyd’s of London);
most major law firms, including all of the magic circle;
the Old Bailey (central criminal court for England and Wales);
Two out of four Inns of Court (professional associations for barristers);
Temple Church (built by the Knights Templar); and
St Paul’s Cathedral.
That is a lot of power residing within 1.12 square miles.
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