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London: Big Ben clock tower renamed Elizabeth Tower to honor queen

June 27, 2012|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • The landmark known as Big Ben has been renamed Elizabeth Tower in honor of Queen Elizabeth II.
The landmark known as Big Ben has been renamed Elizabeth Tower in honor of… (Felipe Trueba / EPA )

The Big Ben clock tower, one of London's best-known landmarks, has been renamed Elizabeth Tower as a diamond jubilee gift to Queen Elizabeth II. The House of Commons Commission made the decision Monday for the tower that was completed in 1859, but no official renaming has yet been scheduled, according to the British Parliament's website.

Though everyone has been calling the decorative Parliament tower Big Ben, the nickname actually applies only to the Great Bell, the very one that strikes the time. (The theories on whom the bell was named for point to two possibilities: Sir Benjamin Hall, a public works commissioner, and Ben Caunt, a heavyweight boxing champ.) Technically, the tower was just called the Clock Tower.

So now Elizabeth Tower joins Victoria Tower, another Parliament high point that was renamed for Queen Victoria in 1860 to commemorate her 60-year reign.

Visitors can get a close-up look at the clock on a free tour that ascends the 334 spiral steps to the top of the tower for fantastic views of London and the famous timepiece.

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