Party time for Britain’s iconic Houses of Parliament as it turns 150

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House of Commons
House of Commons

A program of events was announced Tuesday to celebrate the 150th birthday of one of Britain’s most famous landmarks — the House of Parliament.

Home to the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the iconic Palace of Westminster is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, described as a living, breathing symbol of British democracy.

Events will include talks, competitions and social media activities, drawing on changes in society and laws from the last 150 years.

Pivotal moments include all women and men winning the right to vote, decriminalization of homosexual acts and the instigation of anti-discrimination laws.

“Not only is the Palace of Westminster one of the best-known landmarks in the world, it is a living building, a workplace for MPs, peers and staff, as well as a tourist attraction and UNESCO World Heritage Site,” said House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle.

“It has survived whatever nature and the ravages of time could throw at it over the last 150 years — and has been at the center of societal change. We look forward to celebrating this important milestone with a range of activities to engage people from across the world,” Hoyle said.

“For 150 years, this striking and significant building has been a symbol of our democracy, but also a place of important work as the home of the House of Lords and House of Commons,” said Lords Speaker Norman Fowler.

“It has been the setting for debate, discussion and law-making that have shaped our country over many decades and continues to be so today in these unprecedented times,” Fowler said.

Completed in 1870, the palace’s ground-breaking design included a pioneering air cooling system and the invention of an ingenious clock mechanism to ensure the accuracy of Big Ben, housed within the Elizabeth Tower.

A guided online tour of the building, in which a guide takes the audience on a tour using 360-degree virtual technology, will be launched to allow members of the public to explore the most intriguing corners of this historic site.

With a floor area of 112,476 square meters spread across four floors, at ground floor level it roughly takes up the equivalent of 112 tennis courts. The palace contains 1,100 rooms, 100 staircases and 4.8 km of passageways. Enditem

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