London is certainly the most important city in the United Kingdom. It is the seat of power for the nation, the cultural center, and the busiest place in Britain. Naturally, an important city comes with important people. They influence the government, the media, and our imaginations. Diving into the city of London, let’s have a look at ten of these individuals that every Anglophile should know.
1. Boris Johnson
First up is the Mayor himself. Elected in 2008 for the less-than-a-decade young Greater London Authority, Johnson is the most powerful elected municipal official in London. The Greater London Authority has influence over all the boroughs within the London area, including the City of London, and as its head, Johnson has the ability to influence policy for one of the greatest cities in the world.
2. Fiona Woolf
Johnson’s counterpart, after a fashion, Fiona Woolf is the Lord Mayor of the City of London, the leader of the city’s oldest borough and the foundation of the city itself. Further, since the position was created 800 years ago, she is only the second woman to hold the position. While the position of Lord Mayor is largely ceremonial following the creation of the Greater London Authority, she is still a figure of considerable influence within the City of London and Greater London.
3. David Cameron
It’s only natural for the current resident of 10 Downing Street to have a place on this list, and there are few people who could rival Cameron’s influence over the British government. Coming into power as part of a coalition government in 2010, Cameron is the leader of the Conservative Party and was the youngest person since Lord Liverpool to be appointed Prime Minister. A controversial figure due to policies and appointments, these may lead to a new election in the future.
4. Professor Brian Cox
Despite being a professor of astrophysics at the University of Manchester, Cox’s role as a television presenter on science programmes often brings him to London. Of course, he wasn’t always the British equivalent of Neil DeGrasse-Tyson, and started off his professional life as the keyboard player for the band Dare and later the band D:Ream, achieving a few hits. Since 2005, he has been a major presenter on the BBC for science programmes including “Horizon”, “Wonders”, and “Human Universe”. He’s also appeared as himself on Doctor Who and did a programme on “The Science of Doctor Who” for the 50th Anniversary.
5. Queen Elizabeth II
Arguably the city’s most famous resident, Elizabeth came into power in 1952 upon the death of her father, King George VI. She is the longest reigning monarch behind Queen Victoria and surpassed Victoria on September 9, 2015. Her reign has probably seen as much transformation as Victoria’s, following the independence of many Commonwealth nations, several wars, and the rise of the information age.
6. Lord Justice Brian Leveson
After the News International phone hacking scandal, all eyes were on Leveson as David Cameron tapped him to lead the inquiry into culture, practices, and ethics of the British media. Called to the bar in 1970, Leveson was appointed as Deputy Senior Presiding Judge in 2006 and then Senior Presiding Judge the following year. The final report from the first part of his inquiry was published in 2012 and found that the current system for handling press complaints was insufficient and recommended the creation of an independent body and sharper penalties for breach of privacy by the media.
7. Simon Cowell
As much as it pains me to write it, Cowell is possibly one of the more influential members of the music industry, especially in Britain. He began his music career in the mail room at EMI thanks to his father, one of the company’s executives, and moved up to become a talent scout and eventually, a producer. ITV made him a judge for their show, Pop Idol, in 2001 and American Idol in 2002. On both programs, he developed a reputation for being a particularly harsh critic of the contestants. In 2004, he broke from Pop Idol to create his own show, The X Factor, producing the records of several of the program’s winners, leading to several Christmas no. 1 singles, until he was defeated by a popular campaign to have Rage Against the Machine win in 2009.
8. Steven Moffat
Perhaps the most well-known BBC producer and show runner right now, Moffat had a number of successes with Coupling and Jekyll before taking over the reins of Doctor Who from Russell T. Davies. The explosive popularity of the new Doctor Who show and Sherlock, co-created with Who collaborator Mark Gatiss, have combined to make him one of the most influential people in television. Recent successes with the 50th Anniversary special of Doctor Who, the third series of Sherlock, and the series 8 of Doctor Who with the new Doctor, Peter Capaldi, have only worked to cement his place in television.
9. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George, and Princess Charlotte
Perhaps nothing caught the attention of the nation, the Commonwealth, and America like the marriage of Prince William to Kate Middleton in 2011. Having met at the University of St. Andrews in 2003, their wedding eight years later had a global audience of 300 million. Perhaps one of the biggest changes in Britain to come out of their marriage was the Queen’s signing of letters patent enabling their eldest child to become the next heir to the throne, regardless of the child’s sex, as opposed to the heir being the eldest son. The coverage of Prince George’s birth in 2013 was another moment watched by audiences all over the world.
10. Justin Welby
Elected last year to become the new Archbishop of Canterbury, he was actually rejected for the ministry by John Hughes, the Bishop of Kensington, who told him “There is no place for you in the Church of England.” However, Welby didn’t give up on his dream to serve God, he worked his way up to become the Dean of Liverpool Cathedral and later Bishop of Durham prior to his appointment as Archbishop in 2012 and his election in 2013. As Archbishop, Welby holds more progressive views that may lead to a shakeup of the Church of England, including the consecration of women bishops, criticizing the government’s lackluster efforts to combat poverty, and the need for increased numbers of food banks. However, he reaffirms some of the Church’s conservative stances, including opposition to gay marriage, though he has spoken out against homophobia. Always an influential position in the spiritual lives of many Britons, the Archbishop rounds out our list of Londoners you should know.