To celebrate her 60 years as Queen of the United Kingdom, Elizabeth II is giving a simple but sought after gift: the right for one U.K. town to become a city. This gift, in honor of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year, is expected to bring in entries from municipalities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Gaining city status enables a place to refer to itself formally as a "city." It may not seem like much, but for England's towns, the honor is worth clamoring over.
In 2002, to celebrate the Queen’s 50th year on the throne, 27 English towns bid for the new title. Preston was named the English winner that year, and locals were ecstatic. As Preston Mayor Alan Hackett told the BBC, "We're absolutely delighted. This is a wonderful achievement and richly deserved. This is a real boost for the whole area as it really puts Preston on the international map and will help to attract further investment and jobs."
Other new cities created for the Golden Jubilee were Stirling in Scotland, Newport in Wales and Lisburn and Newry in Northern Ireland.
There are only 66 official cities in the U.K. Naming new cities is rare, typically for major milestones. Four towns were given the city title to commemorate the millennium in 2000. According to the BBC, only 14 were named during the 20th century. Finalists will be chosen by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, and one city winner will be chosen later this year by the Queen.
Photo credit: Reuters