Fortunately these two events are only temporary. They will, however, leave lasting legacies. One such is the 175,000 m2 Westfield Stratford City shopping centre. Britain’s gold medal haul would really rocket if the "Retail Relay" were to become an Olympic event.
Heaven on earth is now a reality for the shoppers of London.
Meanwhile, another legacy project has yet to be accomplished. And, in an effort to help ensure that it remains that way, I have rushed to my keyboard with the same zeal as a drug-fuelled athlete reacting to the boom of the starting pistol.
For it grieves me to report that a group of cretinous politicians are proposing to turn the Houses of Parliament's "Big Ben" into the "Elizabeth Tower" in honour of our dear old queen.(1)
Now, a number of arguments can be deployed to support this obsequious suggestion.
Firstly, the name change wouldn't really matter. The vast majority of locals and visitors would continue to mistakenly refer to it as "Big Ben". Its proper – and far more mundane title – is simply "the Clock Tower". Big Ben alludes to its great bell, which in turn is probably a reference to the politician and engineer, Sir Benjamin Hall (1802-67).
Secondly, the re-christening would bring this iconic symbol in line with the Victoria Tower on the other side of the building. This erection takes its name from Queen Victoria, Britain's erstwhile longest-serving monarch.
Ditching Ben in favour of Liz would add yet another royal epithet to the Houses of Parliament – or, to give it its formal designation: the New Palace at Westminster. This title reflects the fact that Sir Charles Barry's architectural fantasy arose from the ashes of the old palace. Only Westminster Hall survived the inferno that engulfed this ancient edifice in 1834.
The centuries-old Westminster Hall is skilfully integrated into Barry's neo-gothic design. Earlier this month the queen paid it a visit in order to witness the unveiling of a stained-glass window to mark her jubilee.(2)
As she looked up at this glittering tribute, I wonder if she spared a thought for Charles I? For it was in that very same building way back in January 1649 that this soon-to-be-beheaded monarch was put on trial – and sentenced to death.
Charles's nemesis was Oliver Cromwell.
Cromwell was still causing a right royal rumpus two centuries later. This was in relation to the decorative scheme planned for the New Palace at Westminster. If you look carefully you'll see that parliament's façade is festooned with statues of the various kings and queens that have ruled England and Britain through the ages.
This carved history posed a dilemma to its designers: what should be done about Cromwell?
For the sake of historical accuracy and completeness he ought to have been slotted in between Charles I (executed in 1649) and his son, Charles II (restored to the throne in 1660).
But placing a regicide in a royalist pantheon proved to be a commemorative step too far.(3) Cromwell was sculpturally excised from British history. Not until the very end of the 19th century was the Lord Protector rewarded with a statue. He stands there to this day: at one remove, deep in thought and with his back turned to parliament.(4)
So, whether you like it or not, Cromwell is part of Britain's political and monarchical history. If "Big Ben" must have new nomenclature, then it should from this year on be known as "Cromwell Tower".
What better way to mark Queen Elizabeth's jubilee? A silent admonition not only to this monarch but to all her heirs: they occupy positions of privilege and power not by right but by accidents of birth.
Other, far less anachronistic and slightly more democratic systems are possible.
The Cromwell Tower will remind the House of Windsor and all their subjects that we should not take the status quo for granted.
God Save the Queen!
(1) James Chapman, "Bong! Will Big Ben tower be renamed after the Queen? MPs call for the London landmark to be renamed for the Diamond Jubilee", Daily Mail, 23/03/2012, accessed 25/03/2012 at, www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2118999/Big-Ben-renamed-Elizabeth-Tower-Queen.html.
(2) Jon Craig, "Westminster To Honour Queen's Diamond Jubilee", Sky News, 20/03/2012, accessed 25/03/2012 at, http://news.sky.com/home/politics/article/16192187.
(3) The phrase "A regicide in a royalist pantheon" appears in the fifth chapter of my PhD, which concerned the commemorative history and symbolism of parliament and the adjacent square. See Stuart Burch, On Stage at the Theatre of State: The Monuments and Memorials in Parliament Square, London (Nottingham Trent University, 2003).
(4) The stupendous statue of Cromwell - with bible in one hand and sword in the other - was made by Sir William Hamo Thornycroft RA (1850-1925) and completed (without an unveiling ceremony) in 1899. Ever since 1950 he has stood face-to-face with a lead bust of Charles I inserted into a niche on the façade of St. Margaret's Church opposite...
... as can be seen below: