The annual, three-hour-plus pageant, which marks the appointment of the new Lord Mayor, stretches three miles (4.8km) and involves more than 6,500 people, 200 vehicles and 70 floats parading through the city, from Mansion House to the Royal Courts of Justice.
The Lord Mayor’s Show has developed over 800 years and harks back to King John’s Charter of 1215 which decreed that the Lord Mayor of London must present himself to the sovereign on assuming office.
The UK’s military input was co-ordinated by HQ London District and included more than 30 floats from across London and further afield. These showcased the colourful variety of what the Forces do and have to offer as a career, superbly demonstrating this year’s theme of ‘Who we are, What we are, Where we are’.
Showing enormous loyalty to the show, many of the Forces supporters felt like they were back among friends, having taken part numerous times before. Out of the Service line-up, some 350 personnel, many of them reserves, have seen operational service, some of it only recently.
Indeed, members of the Royal Marines Reserve City of London have only recently returned from operations in Afghanistan, but were delighted to provide the Guard of Honour at Mansion House for the new Lord Mayor, Alderman David Wootton, who, along with the First Sea Lord and Commander 3 Commando Brigade, presented them with their HERRICK campaign medals.
Royal Marines Reservist Shaun Larkin said:
I was proud to receive my medal from the Lord Mayor. My six months in Afghanistan as a Royal Marines Reserve was an intense period, but it was a great honour to be recognised for my contribution to the protection of the country. Feeling supported by so many local communities at a remarkably prestigious event was the icing on the cake.
1475 Squadron Air Training Corps provided the Guard of Honour when the Lord Mayor returned to Mansion House at the end.
Pageantmaster Dominic Read, himself a former Army officer, said:
The show has benefited from Service support practically ever since a Standing Army was established. It is a huge privilege for us to take part, but it is fair to say that the city enormously appreciated our involvement - without the skills and expertise of our marshals, movement controllers and other forces specialists the show would not achieve such high standards, or be such a wonderful spectacle.
Also I should pay tribute to our many Service floats helping to show off the best of the Armed Services in London.
Among the many Army contributions was the Royal Yeomanry display, featuring a mix of armoured vehicles as well as 20 marching soldiers and six horses. Regimental Signals Officer Captain Paul Sparrow said:
This is an excellent chance to show off the regiment and some of the equipment we have - many of our young soldiers have been on operations and this is an opportunity to show who we are and what we do.
The RAF too was well-represented, with numerous floats in the line-up, among them one featuring 600 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force. Float commander Squadron Leader Chris Green, back in the show for his 11th year, was as ever thrilled by the unique atmosphere, saying:
It is a wonderful occasion and a superb opportunity to connect with the huge public watching us and raise awareness of the RAF. With nearly 100 people taking part, we are never short of volunteers for the show.
The Royal Navy, as well as cadets from all three Services, also gave full backing. Show ‘veteran’ Lieutenant Commander Cliff Lewis, leading the London Area Sea Cadets float and the Sea Cadet Band, has been taking part ‘ever since I can remember’, and added:
Our cadets are always thrilled to participate, and it is a unique opportunity to show off to a huge public something about the Sea Cadets and how positive and motivated youngsters can be.
At the end of the show, the Lord Mayor was happy to pay further recognition to the Services when he presented the Director of Infantry’s Cutlers’ Sword to Corporal Kyle Martin from 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment.
Donated by the Cutlers Company, the annual presentation recognises the achievements of the best drummer, flautist or bugler in the British Army’s infantry regiments.
Corporal Martin joined the Army in 2005 and, after initial service as a Rifleman, he trained in drumming and fluting at the Army School of Ceremonial, being named best ‘F’ flute student. He is currently based at the Infantry Support Weapons School in Warminster:
It’s a great honour to win this award, both for me and for my regiment,” he said. “It was a great privilege to meet the Lord Mayor. I will wear the sword with enormous pride and use it to inspire any drummer aiming to be the Army’s best.