Richard I appointed the first (Lord) Mayor of London, Henry Fitz-Ailwyn de Londonestone, in effect to run the City, in 1189; and John granted the City the right to elect its own Mayor in 1215 (the “Mayoral Charter” is now in the Guildhall Heritage Gallery). The prestige of the position was such that the by-then Mayor, William Hardel(l), was invited by John to be a witness to the sealing of, and an Enforcer or Surety of, the Magna Carta, later in 1215. Magna Carta granted the City of London “all its ancient liberties and free customs, both by land and by water”. In exchange, the Crown required that, each year, the newly elected Lord Mayor present himself or herself at court to ceremonially “show” his or her allegiance. This event eventually became the Lord Mayor’s Show we know today. Interestingly, the associated parade of the mayor and his or her entourage, from the City to Westminster, used to take place on the Feast of St Simon and St Jude at the end of October, whereas now it takes place on the second Saturday in November.
The parade also used to take place on the water, whereas now it takes place on land – although we still call the mobile stages “floats”.
It travels, accompanied by much pomp, from the Lord Mayor’s official residence, Mansion House, past St Paul’s Cathedral, to the Royal Courts of Justice, where the Cities of London and Westminster meet.