Thirty-nine places are in the competition to win city status as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, with the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar and the Falklands included for the first time.
The Civic Honours competition will see winning towns granted city status, and current cities given Lord Mayoralty or Provostship status, for the first time in 10 years.
The Cabinet Office said winning city status can provide a boost to local communities, opening up new opportunities for people who live there, as has been the case with previous winners such as Perth and Preston, where the local economies benefited from their improved national and global standing.
For the first time, British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies were eligible to apply for the title as part of the competition.
Stanley in the Falkland Islands, almost 8,000 miles away, is one of the places to apply, and there have also been entries from George Town in the Cayman Islands and Gibraltar.
Where are the 39 places vying for city status?
Ballymena, County Antrim
Bangor, County Down
Coleraine, County Londonderry
Crawley, West Sussex
Doncaster, South Yorkshire
Douglas, Isle of Man
Dudley, West Midlands
Dumfries, Dumfries and Galloway
George Town, Cayman Islands
Goole, East Yorkshire
Livingston, West Lothian
Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Newport and Carisbrooke, Isle of Wight
Oban, Argyll and Bute
Peel, Isle of Man
St Andrews, Fife
South Ayrshire, Ayrshire and Arran
Stanley, Falkland Islands
Wrexham, North Wales
Cabinet Office minister Steve Barclay said it is “fitting” that the competition is extended to “include those parts of the world” which hold the Queen “so dearly”.
He said: “Today’s announcement is a celebration of the rich and diverse communities which make up not only the United Kingdom, but also our friends further afield in the Falklands, Gibraltar and the Cayman Islands.
“It’s fitting that, as we look towards celebrating the 70-year reign of Her Majesty the Queen, we extend the competition to include those parts of the world which also hold her so dearly.
“City status is not only about local pride, it can deliver real levelling up benefits for businesses and the local area which is clear from the high number of applications. A sincere best of luck to all those who have applied.”
The competition is part of a series of planned celebrations to mark Queen’s historic 70-year reign, with a special four-day bank holiday weekend set to start on Thursday June 2.
As part of their bids, applicants were asked to talk about the distinct identity and community which they feel means their area deserves to become a city, as well as evidence of links to royalty.
Unlike previous Civic Honours competitions, an expert panel is set to work closely with ministers to make their recommendations, which will then be approved by the Queen.
The Cabinet Office also announced the 12 cities which are vying for Lord Provost or Lord Mayor status, including Newport and Perth, who both previously won city status to mark the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees in 2002 and 2012 respectively.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee is an exciting chance for local areas to become cities and level up opportunities for all. As well as fostering local pride and potential, this competition is a great way to mark Her Majesty’s 70-year reign.
“I wish all entries the best of luck. 2022 is set to be a year of pride, celebration and coming together with the four-day weekend for the Platinum Jubilee alongside other blockbuster events including the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and Unboxed, championing creativity in the UK.”
The final decision will be taken in spring 2022 and announced shortly afterwards.
John Boydell, chair of the Preston Business Improvement District, said: “Preston winning city status brought attention to the city, from the buying public and from those thinking of investing in the city. I think it brought Preston to mind as a place to do business.”
In October, it was announced Southend-on Sea would be given city status after the Queen agreed to award the title in tribute to its long-serving MP, Sir David Amess, who was fatally stabbed while holding a constituency surgery.
It is not yet known when it will become a city.