TODAY sees the birth of a borough as Royal designation is conferred upon Greenwich.
The new royal status, first announced two years ago, will be attained when Leader of the Council, Chris Roberts, and the Mayor of Greenwich, Jim Gillman, travel to Westminster to collect the Royal Charter.
The councillors - expected to attend in morning dress - will receive the Letters Patent in a ceremony with the Head of the Crown Office in the Queen's Robing Room in the Palace of Westminster.
The council leader, who said this was "undoubtedly" the proudest moment of his career to date, will return to the borough with the charter where it will go on display in Woolwich, Eltham and Greenwich town centres alongside a packed schedule of celebratory events this weekend.
In readiness for the new status, the council has started to replace street signs and has put up banners in Greenwich, Woolwich and Eltham town centres.
"In the course of the last week to ten days, I don't think we've seen anything quite it like in terms of the way in which the public have been embracing what is about to happen. It will be one of the most historic days in our history," said Chris Roberts at a press conference yesterday.
"The meaning is what you choose to make of it: there's a tremendous sense of civic pride, " he added. "Never did I think that a council-arranged procession through Greenwich would have to be capped in terms of numbers by the police because so many people want to engage and join with it."
He also claimed there would be an economic uplift from the honour, citing as an example the demand that "Royal Greenwich" would create at the soon-to-be built Enderby Wharf cruise terminal. That will be "major driver" in generating knock-on employment and tourism benefits, he said.
The cost of the status
When asked, the council were not able to provide a cost for the adoption of new branding but Chief Executive, Mary Ney, said they would changing over on a "replacement basis":
"We're not going out and changing all the street signs and uniforms. We're doing it on a replacement basis, so as things need to be replaced we will do it with the royal signage. We have done some new signage around the town centres and around the tourism areas as that seemed important. We have allowed the entrance signs into the borough to go into dereliction - they were damaged and old and referred to the Millennium year - and so we are refreshing all of those with the crest."
Chris Roberts told this website that there won't be sponsorship of the borough entrance signs, as now can be found on many of Bexley's signs, but he signalled he wouldn't rule out such a move in the future.
There's no timescale for when the whole of the borough can expect new signs and no plans available for what will happen to old signs that are being taken down.
Icing on the cake
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, told Greenwich.co.uk: "Greenwich is a London borough of global significance; the home of time, a Unesco World Heritage Site, not to mention its close links to the Royal Family since the Middle Ages. This royal honour is surely the icing on the cake of a fantastic year for Greenwich as it prepares for a role at the heart of the London Games."
Weekend of events
Celebrations to mark the event, including music and fireworks, will be taking place later today in Woolwich, tomorrow in Eltham and finally in Greenwich town centre on Sunday.
The celebrations also coincide with the arrival of the King's Troop in Woolwich on Friday night. The newly-arrived troop will be performing a procession through Woolwich on Tuesday morning.