Instantly recognizable cultural icon
Big Ben is the name used to refer to the Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London, but more commonly applied to both the clock and the clock tower. The iconic building is one of the best known landmarks in the world and instantly associated with the English capital.
Previously simply the "Clock Tower", the building’s official name is now the Elizabeth Tower, the new name marking Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Building of the tower was completed in 1858.
There is no consensus on the origin of the nickname Big Ben. Some believe it came from Sir Benjamin Hall, who supervised the installation of the Great Bell, while others associate it with English heavyweight boxing champion Benjamin Caunt.
The instantly recognizable sound of the clock’s chimes is used to mark many national events, from welcoming in the New Year to marking the opening of the 2012 London Olympic Games or on Remembrance Day to commemorate the members of the armed forces killed in the line of duty. The news on the popular ITN News at Ten used to open with the chimes punctuating the individual headlines, another symbolic use of the landmark building’s function as a national cultural icon.