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Platinum Jubilee: Eight new cities created in Queen’s honour

By Mary O’Connor
BBC News

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The Queen Elizabeth visited the Coast Guard station headquarters in Bangor, Northern Ireland, back in May 2009

Eight new cities are being created for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, with at least one in every UK nation – and on the Falkland Islands and Isle of Man.

Milton Keynes in England, Dunfermline in Scotland, Bangor in Northern Ireland and Wrexham in Wales all get the title.

It is a first for places in an Overseas Territory – Stanley, in the Falklands – and a crown dependency – Douglas, in the Isle of Man – to win city status.

Colchester and Doncaster complete the list getting the royal honour.

Applicants had to show their cultural heritage and royal links.

The Platinum Jubilee civic honours competition also required places to show how their local identity and communities meant they deserved to be granted city status.

The last competition to win civic honours ran a decade ago to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. For the first time this year, Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories were allowed to apply.

The announcement of the latest civic honours takes the number of official cities in mainland UK to 76, with 55 in England, eight in Scotland, seven in Wales and six in Northern Ireland.

The winners and details from their bids for city status include:

Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland

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Due to its location at the mouth of the Belfast Lough, Bangor was a key site for the Allies during the Second World War

  • Population: 61,011
  • Due to its location at the mouth of the Belfast Lough, Bangor was a key site for the Allies during the Second World War
  • In May 1944, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces Dwight D Eisenhower, who later became US president, gave a speech to 30,000 assembled troops in Bangor shortly before ships left for Normandy and the D-Day landings.
  • The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visited Bangor Castle in 1961 and, after lunching at the Royal Ulster Yacht Club that day, the duke took part in a regatta race

Colchester, Essex, England

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Colchester Castle was built on the foundations of a Roman temple

  • Population: 119,441
  • Colchester is Britain’s first recorded settlement and its first capital
  • It has been a garrison town for the past 165 years and for the past 21 years has been home to 16 Air Assault Brigade, the UK’s rapid response force
  • Recently, 750 soldiers from Colchester were sent to Kabul to help with the evacuation of UK citizens and others

Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England

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The Flying Scotsman locomotive was built in Doncaster

  • Population: 110,000
  • Originally a Roman settlement, it is almost 2,000 years old
  • Noted for its railway heritage, the Flying Dutchman and the Mallard locomotives were both built there
  • It is also home to the St Leger flat course, which was founded in 1776 and is the oldest classic horse race in the world. The Queen and other royals throughout history have attended the St Leger festival
  • After Doncaster was hit by flooding in 2019, locals showed their community spirit in the relief effort

Douglas, Isle of Man

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Douglas is the island’s main port

  • Population: 26,677 (2021 census)
  • The Queen is patron of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) which started in Douglas
  • Its Royal Hall plays host to annual flagship concerts by the Isle of Man Symphony Orchestra, the Isle of Man Choral Society and the Manx Last Night of the Proms

Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland

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Dunfermline’s most famous son is Andrew Carnegie,whose steel industry helped build America

  • Population: 49,706
  • Its annual fireworks display attracts some 30,000 local people, while the Christmas light event packed the town centre with 10,000 people
  • Dunfermline’s most famous son is Andrew Carnegie whose steel industry helped build America. His philanthropy started the world’s public library system, and he gave away the equivalent of £65bn in today’s money
  • It was one of the seats of the kings of Scotland in the middle ages. Robert the Bruce was buried in Dunfermline Abbey after his death in 1329

Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England

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Milton Keynes is the home of MK Dons, formed in 2004

  • Population: 171,750 (2011 census), although Milton Keynes Council quotes its “urban area” population (including the neighbouring towns of Bletchley, Newport Pagnell and Woburn Sands) as 248,800.
  • It was created in 1967 to alleviate housing shortages in overcrowded London
  • It has 27 conservation areas, 50 scheduled monuments, 1,100 listed buildings and 270 works of public art
  • The Open University, the world’s first degree-awarding, distance learning institution, was set up in Milton Keynes in 1967; and its University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust established the nation’s first independent medical school
  • Milton Keynes is also the home of MK Dons football club, formed in 2004 after Wimbledon relocated there

Stanley, Falkland Islands

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The Whalebone arch in Stanley was erected in 1933 to mark a century of British administration

  • Population: 2,458 in 2016, according to its most recent census
  • Members of the Royal Family have regularly visited the islands, including the late Duke of Edinburgh in 1957. In 2016, the Duke of Cambridge spent six weeks on the islands as a search and rescue helicopter pilot
  • Holidays and events specific to the islands are held annually – such as Peat Cutting Monday. The sacrifices made during the Falklands War are also remembered – 2022 marks 40 years since the conflict

Wrexham, north east Wales

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Wrexham has tried to become a city three times since 2000

  • Population: 61,603
  • Established in 1864, Wrexham Football Club is among the oldest professional football clubs in the UK and is owned by Hollywood stars – the actor Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, creator of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  • The area is home to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a Unesco World Heritage site
  • A range of businesses and industries are based there, including JCB, Kellogg’s and aerospace firms including Magellen and Cytec

Almost 40 locations submitted bids for city status when applications opened last year. A panel of experts and Cabinet Office ministers assessed the bids before recommendations were submitted to the Queen.

Chelmsford, in England, Lisburn in Northern Ireland and Newport in Wales were among previous winners of the competition for city status – which has taken place during each of the last three jubilee years.

Each new city will receive the award formally through a Letters Patent, which will be presented later in the year.

Meanwhile, the city of Southampton has won the competition for Lord Mayoralty status – which means the mayor can be called Lord Mayor – joining the ranks of previous Jubilee competition winners including Chester, Exeter and Armagh.

In October, it was announced that Southend in Essex would become a city after the death of Sir David Amess, one of the town’s MPs, who often championed its campaign for the status.

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