Guide to East London

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Pearly Kings and Queens

The tradition of London's Pearly Kings and Queens began in Victorian times when a young orphan boy, Henry Croft, decided that since he shared his birthdate with Queen Victoria in the hope that he might share some of her glory. The Royal Family would parade in their finery in the London parks on Sundays so that the common people could appreciate their grandeur. This sentiment was not always well received and there was a certain amount of "lampooning" of this tradition in the poor mans favourite entertainment of the day, the music hall.

Pearly Kings and Queens were an 'aristocracy' of Victorian London costermongers. Their ceremonial clothes were studded with a countless lavish collection of pearl buttons. The costermongers, earned their living selling fruit and vegetables from a barrow. Pearly Kings and Queens were originally elected to safeguard their rights from competitors. Today they devote their activities to charitable activities.



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