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22-year-old rises from public housing to London’s elite as mayor

When guests enumerated in Westminster Abbey, Coronation of Charles IIIBeneath the glittering office, a young man in blue-and-gold ceremonial robes walked down the central aisle and sat in a privileged seat by the choir.

He was indeed the devout Mayor of Westminster. And he was extremely nervous. In the car, he combed his beard and double-checked his outfit before entering with dignity.

“You’re in front of millions of people. You can’t go wrong,” Hamza Tauzare recently recalled.

Only 22 years old when he was appointed Lord Mayor last year, he is the youngest ever and the first Muslim to assume a ceremonial role of sorts as an ambassador of goodwill to Westminster and its inhabitants. He represents a large part of central London at civic events with all the pomp and ceremonies that go with the title created by Queen Elizabeth II. Per 1966 Letter of Patent.

Raised in a single-parent household in public housing in the British capital, Mr Tawsar was thrown into a world of power and privilege from the moment he was sworn in.

Along with a £24,000 ($30,600) scholarship, he was offered a fulfilling job. researcher. Diary manager. And Maybearer served as his chauffeur and manners guide at many high-profile public events at Buckingham Palace.

What was the first funeral he attended? Queen Elizabeth in September.

“You can see different lifestyles,” Tauzar said. “Westminster is his tale of two cities,” he added. “You have extreme wealth and extreme poverty.”

Westminster’s borders are home to some of Britain’s most famous landmarks, including the Houses of Parliament, Abbey and Buckingham Palace. And more than 250,000 residents live in both the country’s most expensive real estate and public housing, and many rely on food banks. called a crisis.

Tawzar still lives in the apartment where he grew up. “My grandmother came to Westminster from Morocco in her early twenties,” he said. “My mother grew up here, and I was born and raised here. It’s a big part of who I am.”

Active in local politics from the age of 16, he was elected as a Labor Member of Parliament for Westminster City Council at age 18, after which he received a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Political Science. He has his sights set on entering parliament, hoping to use the city council seat as a stepping stone to national office.

The city council, made up of more than 50 members, is responsible for many administrative services, such as municipal housing, garbage collection, and transportation, and elects a lord mayor for each one-year term.

Tawzar said he was surprised to be selected, as parliamentary posts are usually awarded in the fall of one’s career.

“I think it was a statement that the City of Westminster is moving forward,” he said. “I’ve never had a mayor before me who wasn’t of British or white origin.”

“I think it was a sign that the city was becoming more progressive,” he added.

Tawzar said he makes it a point to attend events in his hometown of Westminster North. This is because residents of this densely populated, low-income neighborhood feel that the district is constantly neglected. “When I was a kid, I had no idea who the mayor was. I had never met him. I wanted to change that.”

Most lord mayors have a partner or spouse who acts as their legal spouse. Mr. Towsar took his mother, aunt and grandmother to the big event at Buckingham Palace. Younger brothers, friends and fellow parliamentarians accompanied him on other appearances.

“I really did anything,” he said. “Even if you don’t feel like it that day, even if it’s plain.”

Tawzar’s formal engagement platinum jubilee Last June, we celebrated the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne. At the evening’s concert, he sat in the royal box directly in front of then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson and just behind the Prince and Princess of Wales.

It was a pinch moment. Mr. Tawzar was secretly snapping photos of world figures around him and the crowd below as a personal keepsake, or a sort of proof of attendance, when someone tapped him on the shoulder and whispered: , Look. you’re going to be on tv “

Tawzar said he often felt as if he was living an unrealistic double life.

“We go to very fancy and fancy dinners in private clubs and private residences where everyone already knows each other and it seems like they are in this circle. I was like, ‘Wait a minute, did you really just do that? “

In the midst of pomp and ceremony–at most of the functions he was the highest-ranking person in attendance, ahead of the General, and the last to enter the room (“It is very strange”). he said)—sometimes there were etiquette issues.

“At first it was difficult to know which fork or knife to use,” says Tawzar. “We used to have several forks and knives on the table, and all of a sudden there were three of each of him.

His few months as mayor flew by. He oversaw the felling of the UK’s national Christmas tree in Norway and lit Trafalgar Square with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

“Mr Hamza Tawzar’s recent tenure as Mayor of Westminster symbolizes the strength of London’s diversity,” Khan said.

Part of the lord’s mayor’s duties included regularly lecturing at an Anglican monastery, so becoming the first Muslim to hold the post required some negotiation.

“Every time I read at the monastery, I had to spend a lot of time with the dean trying to figure out what was the right reading,” he said. “I am a devout Muslim, so I will not hide my faith and read what I do not agree with or think is not correct. I had to find verses and readings that fit.”

Now that a new Lord Mayor has taken office, Mr. Tawzar has to return his robes, office and car with the coveted WE 1 license plate, but he thinks about his future and his job as a councilor. looking for It is part time only and the salary is about $11,500.

He hopes his tenure as lord mayor will inspire the next generation of Westminsters.

“Growing up in my area, I felt I wasn’t allowed to have positive aspirations. They closed down pretty early on,” he said. “If you had a decent job, people would be like, ‘Oh, you’re lucky.’ Oh, how lucky you were to go to college.” is not the standard?”

he added: “I hope I can inspire people. I hope they can say, ‘If Hamza did it, so can I.'”

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/23/world/europe/as-lord-mayor-a-22-year-old-vaulted-from-public-housing-into-londons-elite.html 22-year-old rises from public housing to London’s elite as mayor

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