The Mall

Unlike the American usage of the word, the area of London, England, called The Mall has nothing no sprawling shopping complex. It is, essentially, the Queen’s driveway – as The Mall is the road that connects the gates of Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the British monarch, to the bustling streets of London. Although mostly open for public use, The Mall is closed on Sunday’s and public holidays. It is also a traditional part of any royal ceremonial route, particularly coronations and funerals of the royal family.

While this may seem a little dry and uninteresting, The Mall has nevertheless found a popular place in British folklore. There is an enduring urban myth, still believed today and stated as fact, that in the case of emergencies the smooth tarmac of The Mall can be converted to a runway – from which a jet could depart, carrying the royal family to safety. While this is a novel idea, adding a touch of modern spice to the age old institution of the monarchy, it is alas untrue.

For it is royalty and monarchy – and thus, unavoidably, Britishness in itself – that The Mall is most known for. The trees and posts of the street are often decorated with large Union Jacks, the British flag. While these flags are only meant to be used on ceremonial occasions, they are rarely removed, providing a lasting symbol of Britishness along the road at all times.

The MallIt would, even without the flags, be rather difficult to forget that The Mall is in Britain. It leads on to Buckingham Palace, one of the most often used images of Britain and its monastic history. At the front of the Palace, separating the main gates from the main public road, there is the huge behemoth memorial to Queen Victoria of England. From The Mall, there is a view to the public balcony, on which – at certain occasions, such as the Golden Jubilee celebrations of current Queen, Elizabeth II – the royal family stand to greet and waving to the public.

The Mall has two purposes; the first, and less interesting, is as a public road from Monday to Saturday’s – though few travel on it for any other purpose than visiting the palace, and it is often thronged with taxis. The second is as a ceremonial route, with a visit to the Palace usually being a stopping point for any visiting Heads of State.

While not specifically being a tourist attraction in itself, The Mall is nevertheless near to many of the most popular tourist visiting spots in London. The much enjoyed St. Jame’s Park is close, as is the ceremonial ground where the military tattoo, Trooping The Color, takes place annually. It is also a popular route for tourist sightseeing buses, as not only does The Mall cross before Buckingham Palace, but it is also en route to Trafalgar Square. So while there is little to do within The Mall itself – except the chance for photograph opportunities of the Victoria memorial and the front of Buckingham Palace – for most tourists, The Mall is an unavoidable and enjoyable part of the London experience.