What is a better way to learn history and discover how one of the oldest Parliaments in the world actually works, than visiting the place and seeing it with your own eyes?
On the 7th May 2019, some of our best students were invited to an exclusive trip to the Houses of Parliament in recognition to their high academic achievements and contribution towards the college’s continuous improvement. Courtesy of Team Mont Rose College, and our local MP, Mr Gapes, they had a chance to immerse deep into the past and present of one of the world’s greatest democracies, discover how hundreds years old traditions mix with the demands of modern times and learn how the most important decisions for the country are actually being made. They had a chance to follow the footsteps of some the most important people in the British history, including the Prime Ministers and monarchs.
The tour started in Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the building, where we were met by Andrea, the official Houses of Parliament tour guide, who introduced us to the history of the building itself and the whole British Parliamentary system. We were then led to the Chamber of Commons, the only place on the British Isles where the Queen is not allowed. Stopping a few times on the way, we had a chance to admire some of the masterpieces of art, depicting the main events in the British history, discover the functions of various rooms, roles of members of staff and learn about the traditions and customs that have been followed for centuries.
The main entrance to the lower house of the British Parliament – the House of Commons – is called Churchill arch, and is “guarded” by bronze statues of four most important Prime Ministers of 20th century: David Lloyd George (the Prime Minister during the First World War), Winston Churchill (the Prime Minister during the Second World War and one of Mont Rose College patrons), Clement Attlee (the first post-war Labour Government leader) and Margaret Thatcher – the first British female Prime Minister and the first person to be honoured by the House whilst still living.
In the surprisingly tiny Chamber of Commons, we learnt about the voting procedures, and all the rules of parliamentary debate.
From there we proceeded to the Queen’s antechamber. Last refurbished by the Queen Victoria, it is a spectacular, vastly decorated room where the monarch dons their crown and ermine-trimmed robe every year for the official opening of the Parliamentary session. From there we followed Her Majesty’s annual route to the Chamber of Lords, the unelected Upper House of the British Parliament. Seeing her gold-plated throne from so close, and discovering the details of the Lords’ work was definitely an unforgettable experience.
After some two hours of walking, admiring the surroundings and imbibing all the amazing information, we finished our tour in the Westminster Hall, where more facts about its history, architecture and modern-day usage were shared with us. We were given time for photos (as this is the only part of the building where taking them is allowed) and final questions, which we had plenty. Thank to Andrea’s patience, vast knowledge and ability to explain even the most difficult oddities, nobody left the building dissatisfied. Who knows, maybe some of us have even found their future vocation in politics?
What is a better way to summarise such an experience than reading testimonials of those who attended? Let us find out what they say: