Prince Charles will grant Southend city status TODAY

Prince Charles will grant Southend city status TODAY as he presents legal documents to council meeting following death of MP Sir David Amess

  • Prince of Wales will also be joined by Camilla during a visit to Southend’s pier
  • Future king and queen will unveil eco-friendly pier train named after Sir David
  • Lady Julia Amess will receive freedom of the city on behalf of her late husband

Prince Charles will officially make Southend-on-Sea a city today following a years-long campaign by the late MP Sir David Amess – who was stabbed to death by a terrorist last year. 

The Prince of Wales will formally present the legal document which entitles the change of status, the Letters Patent, to Southend’s mayor Margaret Borton at a council meeting on Tuesday. 

Charles will present the document on behalf of the Queen before being joined by his wife the Duchess of Cornwall on a Royal visit to the pier. 

Sir David, who had served as Conservative MP for Southend West since 1997, was murdered during a constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on October 15.

The 69-year-old had campaigned tirelessly to make Southend a city.

Mayor Mrs Borton said Tuesday: ‘Formally receiving city status from His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales will be a special moment for Southend-on-Sea, and we are hugely honoured to receive a royal visit from Their Royal Highnesses on what is sure to be a momentous day for our new city.’

Sir David Amess (pictured), who had served as Conservative MP for Southend West since 1997, was murdered during a constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on October 15

The Prince of Wales (pictured left) will formally present the legal document which entitles the change of status, the Letters Patent, to Southend’s mayor Margaret Borton at a council meeting on Tuesday

Days after Sir David’s death, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that ‘Her Majesty has agreed that Southend will be accorded the city status it so clearly deserves’. 

Lady Julia Amess will be given the freedom of the city on behalf of her late husband.

Charles and Camilla will then visit the seafront to unveil a new eco-friendly pier train named after Sir David.

The battery-powered trains will be used to take visitors from the shoreline to the end of Southend Pier, which at 1.33 miles (2.14km) is the longest pleasure pier in the world.

The £3.25 million pier train replacement project is seeing the existing diesel trains, which have been in operation on the pier since 1986, replaced with new, eco-friendly trains, designed in heritage green and cream following a public vote.

Green and cream liveried pier trains previously ran on Southend Pier from 1949 to 1978. 

Workers install a new Welcome to the City of Southend-on-Sea road sign ahead of today’s Royal visit

Southend was one of several towns competing for city status as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June next year, with Sir David having pushed for the recognition for at least two decades.  

With a population of around 183,000, Southend is a large coastal town and is home to the longest pleasure pier in the world, Southend Pier, measuring 1.33 miles. 

It also has London Southend Airport less than two miles north of the town centre.  

Cities historically were settlements with cathedrals, which is why small places such as Ely in Cambridgeshire and Salisbury remain cities. 

But having a cathedral is no longer an official requirement for a city-aspiring town. 

In recent years, towns have been able to apply to the Government for city status via competitions by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

At the last competition, held to honour the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee nine years ago, three towns were granted city status – Perth, Chelmsford and St Asaph. 

In 2002, Preston became a city, while Brighton and Wolverhampton were granted the upgrade to mark the turn of the millennium.

In the days after his death, the Prime Minister praised Sir David as a politician who ‘simply wanted to serve the people of Essex’ as a backbench Conservative. 

He vowed that the ‘contemptible act of violence’ that took his life would not ‘detract from his accomplishments as a politician or as a human being’.

A man skates along the promenade in Southend, Essex on October 18, 2021

Southend also has London Southend Airport less than two miles north of the town centre (pictured) 

Nadine Dorries paid a touching tribute to Sir David in October when she revealed his last letter to her (pictured) pleaded for help making Southend a city

Mr Johnson added that Sir David was a ‘seasoned campaigner of verve and grit’ who ‘never once witnessed any achievement by any resident of Southend that could not somehow be cited in his bid to secure city status for that distinguished town’.

‘As it is only a short time since Sir David last put that very case to me in this chamber, I am happy to announce that Her Majesty has agreed that Southend will be accorded the city status it so clearly deserves,’ the Prime Minister said, to cheers from MPs. 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the city status for the seaside town was a ‘fitting tribute to Sir David’s hard work’.

Nadine Dorries paid a touching tribute to Sir David in October when she revealed his last letter to her pleaded for help making Southend a city. 

In it he congratulated on her promotion to replace Oliver Dowden in Boris Johnson ‘s reshuffle, adding: ‘Let’s now make Southend a city!’

In a tweet, Ms Dorries wrote: ‘It’s taken me a while to get through the post in my Parliamentary office.

‘Just opened this letter from David, in his true style, asking me to make Southend a city.

‘It happened David, it happened.’

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