Why Tower Hamlets should be a 'royal' borough after Covid

On target... aiming for Tower Hamlets 'royal' status

On target... aiming for Tower Hamlets 'royal' status - Credit: SWNS/Royal Palaces

Turning the East End into “a right royal borough” could help Tower Hamlets recover from the Covid emergency. 

That’s the proposal being made by one councillor at tonight’s town hall budget meeting.

Cllr Rabina Khan wants the council to apply to the government for "royal" status for Tower Hamlets, something like Greenwich over the river from the Isle of Dogs or like Kensington & Chelsea or Kingston-upon-Thames. 

Drumming up support... for Tower Hamlets bid for 'royal' status  

Drumming up support... for Tower Hamlets bid for 'royal' status - Credit: Mike Brooke

Or maybe settle for "city" status like the City of London or City of Westminster.

It’s not such a weird idea. Tower Hamlets holds the Crown Jewels as the boundary includes the Tower of London which is a royal palace. 


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Cllr Khan is urging the mayor to invest in a long-term strategy to boost the East End’s economy. 

This would also include a bid to relocate the European Bank for Reconstruction to Canary Wharf and the chance to host the newly-announced Advanced Research & Innovation science agency, first revealed in the East London Advertiser on February 22. 

A cross-party working group is being proposed to bid for royal status and for the world’s largest life sciences hub to be set up in Canary Wharf, following the government’s announcement of a UK life science agency.

Our royal links... Ceremony of the Constable’s Dues when the Constable of the Tower of London is presented with a barrel...

Our royal links... Ceremony of the Constable’s Dues when the Constable of the Tower of London is presented with a barrel of wine - Credit: James Linsell-Clark/SWNS

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“We are living in a time of national crisis with Covid-19,” Cllr Khan told the Advertiser. “The investment into life sciences can provide hope for our economic sustainability. Barts Health Trust has one of the richest databases in Europe because of our population diversity."

This would replace the European Medicines Authority that quit Canary Wharf last year following Brexit.  

“This is a great place with the upcoming location of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development," Cllr Khan will tell the council's budget meeting.

"Tower Hamlets received the biggest Covid-19 Grant Aid of all London boroughs, so there is room to protect services while investing in our economy. We need to be more ambitious.” 

2011... last time Tower Hamlets applied for 'City' status

2011... last time Tower Hamlets applied for 'City' status - Credit: LBTH

A cross-party working group could be funded from New Homes bonus money, she suggests, while seeking royal or city status to put Tower Hamlets level with its neighbouring City of London.   

The last time anyone bid for city status was former mayor Lutfur Rahman a decade ago, which was turned down by David Cameron's government. 

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