From the Falklands to Essex: The military places competing for city status

Thirty-nine places, including military-linked towns in the UK and overseas, are competing to win city status as part of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

The Civic Honours competition will see winning towns granted city status, and current cities given Lord Mayoralty or Provostship status, for the first time in 10 years.

And, also for the first time, British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies were able to enter the competition, with Stanley, almost 8,000 miles away in the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar and George Town in the Cayman Islands all applying.

Falkland Islands Government chief executive Andy Keeling told Forces News it shows "that 40 years after the Falklands War, we are not purely a nation of penguins and public-spirited people".

"We are a forward-thinking country that has a part to play within the global community, as a business destination and also as an international tourist destination," he said.

"So we really think this will help promote Stanley and also help promote the Falkland Islands because we really are the custodians of such a beautiful place."

View of Gibraltar from Royal Navy ship HMS Trent
View of Gibraltar from Royal Navy ship HMS Trent (Picture: Royal Navy).

In the UK, Colchester in Essex, home to Merville Barracks, has also applied to become a city – for the fourth time.

Cabinet Office minister Steve Barclay said it is "fitting" the competition is extended to "include those parts of the world" which hold the Queen "so dearly".

"City status is not only about local pride, it can deliver real levelling-up benefits for businesses and the local area which is clear from the high number of applications," he said.

"A sincere best of luck to all those who have applied."

The competition is part of a number of planned celebrations to mark the Queen's historic 70-year reign – with a special four-day bank holiday weekend set to start on Thursday 2 June.

The High Street, Colchester, Essex, England, UK
Colchester, home to Merville Barracks, has applied to become a city for the fourth time (Picture: Alamy).

As part of their bids, applicants were asked to talk about the distinct identity and community which they feel means their area deserves to become a city, as well as evidence of links to royalty.

Unlike previous Civic Honours competitions, an expert panel is set to work closely with ministers to make their recommendations, which will then be approved by the Queen.

The Cabinet Office also announced the 12 cities which are vying for Lord Provost or Lord Mayor status, including Newport and Perth, which both previously won city status to mark the Queen's Golden and Diamond Jubilees in 2002 and 2012 respectively.

The final decision will be taken in spring 2022 and announced shortly afterward.