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Beauty Spot: Pearly Kings & Queens Harvest FestivalPhotography Roxy Lee

Capturing the splendour of the Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest Festival

Photographer Roxy Lee reports from Cheapside for the annual autumnal celebration

TextAlex PetersPhotographyRoxy Lee

If you went down to London’s Cheapside last Sunday, you will have come across an unexpected sight: a festive group clad in bright, mother of pearl-covered suits leading lively sing-a-longs to tunes including “Maybe It’s Because I’m a Londoner” and “The Lambeth Walk”. Why? Because Sunday was the day the Pearly Kings and Queens had their Harvest Festival. 

The tradition of the Pearly Kings and Queens of London dates back over a century when Henry Croft, an orphaned street sweeper, began collecting money for charity, wearing a suit covered in pearl buttons to attract attention. 30 London families (one from each borough) now keep the tradition alive, raising money for charities across the city and passing the pearly title down through the generations. 

In celebration of Harvest, the families gathered together in their resplendent finery for the biggest event in the Pearly calendar when they celebrate the bounty of the autumn at the Guildhall with Morris dancers, maypole dancing, and plenty of music from the marching bands before leading a procession through the streets to St Mary Le Bow Church.

To capture the goings-on, photographer Roxy Lee was on the ground for Dazed Beauty to lens the London royalty in all their splendour. Head to the gallery below to see more.