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Queen opens City Hall

The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, last week officially opened the new home of London government, City Hall as part of the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations. But the Prince Philip didn't think much of the view...

The Royal party was welcomed to the Greater London Authority's new headquarters by Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London and Trevor Phillips, Chair of the London Assembly.  The Queen was then taken on a tour of the new building starting at the Chamber – the heart of the new building – and London's Living Room at the top of City Hall.

As part of her visit the Queen met London Assembly Members, as well as the Mayor of Berlin, Mayor Wowereit, the Mayor of Paris, Mayor Delanoe, and the First Deputy of Moscow, Vladimir Resin, who were all in London for the opening.

Ken Livingstone said: "Eighty years ago King George V, the Queen's grandfather, opened the last seat of London government, County Hall. So it is entirely fitting that the Queen, during her Golden Jubilee year, is today opening the home of the new government for London.

"City Hall is a landmark for the capital. For 14 years London had no city-wide government until the first Mayoral and Assembly elections in May 2000. It is appropriate, then, that our permanent home should be a dramatic new building which will become a distinctive addition to London's landscape. "

Trevor Phillips, Chair of the London Assembly said, 'When George V opened the previous seat of London Government 80 years ago, he spoke eloquently of the development of a "sense of citizenship" that could be engendered by fine buildings housing a public authority. We are honoured that Her Majesty has seen fit to open City Hall. For those who work in it, we hope it will become, not just a marvelous edition to London's skyline, but a mark of our commitment to London's tradition of active, independent citizenry."

To mark the opening of City Hall the Queen unveiled a plaque in the Chamber and opened the visitor book with her signature. The book will be displayed in the reception for future visitors to City Hall to sign.

Fosters and Partners were the architects behind City Hall. They also worked on the re-design of the Reichstag in Berlin. The Greater London Authority is the tenant of City Hall which was commissioned from the CIT Group by the Government Office for London. The Authority has a 25-year lease on the building.

But the Duke of Edinburgh caused controversy over his comments about the view from City Hall. London Assembly chairman Trevor Phillips, who accompanied the royal couple on their tour, said afterwards: "We went into the London Living Room (a public viewing area at the top) and I said you should look at the view, it's wonderful.

"He said: 'It's terrible, look at all these buildings', I'm not sure where he was referring to, but I think he was talking about some of the tower blocks you can see across south-east London."

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