Secrets of Westminster
From the outside, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben are the classic London emblems of historic British democracy. Today, this building stands as a monument to a fair and open political system, but was this always the case? Go inside its gothic walls and discover the hidden worlds of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
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About the Show
Explore the hidden areas of London’s House of Commons, House of Lords and Westminster Abbey. Throughout its history, Westminster has embodied stories of power struggles and tradition. As one of the world’s most famous churches, it is steeped in Anglo-Saxon myths and legends dating back to the 11th century. Viewers are privy to a behind-the-scenes tour to one of the most memorable vantage points of this architectural masterpiece, the site of the coronations of every English monarch since 1066.
The film charts the brazen heist of the Stone of Destiny, part of the famous Coronation Chair, first used by Edward the Confessor in 1296. The theft, on Christmas Eve in 1950, made international headlines. Scotsman Ian Hamilton reveals how he and others planned and carried out the theft, then returned the storied stone in time for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.
"Secrets of Westminster" also provides access to the Houses of Parliament, both the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Here, intrigue, pageantry and customs, including why a monarch is never allowed into the House of Commons, are the order of the day. A tour of the iconic bell tower of Big Ben showcases this iconic symbol and explains the origin of its nickname and the mystery of its distinct tone. Victoria Tower holds priceless Acts of Parliament, documents that record 500 years of British history, including the Stamp Act that eventually led to colonial America’s rebellion.
The film outlines the famous Gunpowder Plot, commemorated annually with bonfires and fireworks on Guy Fawkes Day; features footage of suffragette Emily Davison’s grim demise; and covers the career of Lady Astor, an American in England, who had a profound impact on Parliament.
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