|Pearly Kings and Queens|
Like the cockney culture, the tradition of Pearly Kings and Queens can be traced to London's street traders. These traders used to elect representatives, known as "kings" in order to defend themselves against competitors and the police.
The tradition of bedecking themselves in pearls can be traced to a 19th century roadsweeper called Henry Croft. Nothing to do with the street trader "kings", Croft decided to create a charity to help the poor. And in order to attract attention to himself whilst fundraising, he came up with the idea of sewing pearl buttons onto his clothes.
The traders latched onto the idea and followed suit. And it is the street trader "kings" who have since become associated with elaborate suits bedecked with pearls. An average Pearly King suit will have an amazing 35,000-odd buttons sewn on to it.
Nowadays the Pearly Kings and Queens are all members of the Pearly Kings' and Queens' Association which was founded in 1911. It is a charitable organisation.
You will be very lucky to see a Pearly King or Queen just wandering around the streets. So if you want to catch a glimpse of one you should head for their annual festival held each October in St Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square.
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