Closing out our week in London at Parliament

I’m an international traveler now, having spent a week absorbing the sights and sounds of London, England. On the final full day of our first stint in London, we visited the UK Parliament building, the Palace of Westminster. As our tour guide explained, the Parliament building’s name is literal, as it was originally established as a palace. You can see this in the ornate design of every room of the building.

I was surprised at just how ornate the Parliament building was. Of course, the rooms where Queen Elizabeth might prepare for her speeches to Parliament were ornate. That made sense. But I was surprised that the rest of the building was similarly detailed, especially the House of Lords section, where no pictures were allowed.

. The House of Commons area looked most like what I imagine the US Capitol building would look like.

I have never actually been to the US Capitol building, but from what I’ve seen in photos, it seems to be far more sparse in its design than the Parliament building. It is reminiscent of the difference between a Catholic church and a Lutheran church. This reflects the way that the United States was founded as a direct response and reaction to the UK, just as the Lutheran church was founded as a response to the Catholic church.

I also did not realize some things about the English government system. For example, I did not realize that the UK still had an unelected house of their Parliament, the House of Lords. This points out a key difference between the US and UK governments. While the two governments nowadays are constitutional republics, the UK has ties to its previous, unelected form of government that the US does not have, since it has never had such a government. The impact of this history on England can be felt today, even though that era of English political structure is long over.

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