Five towns have been given city status as part of the celebrations to mark the Queen's Golden Jubilee.
Preston in north west England, Newport in Wales, Stirling in Scotland, and Northern Ireland's Lisburn and Newry beat off competition from 37 other towns to win the much sought-after title.
The city of Exeter was granted permission to call its first citizen Lord Mayor.
These honours are sparingly bestowed as a mark of special distinction and the accolades were richly deserved by the winners
Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine of Lairg, who made the announcement, said: "It was an extremely difficult competition to judge because all the towns in their own ways were exceptional.
"They all demonstrated a very positive attitude to Her Majesty's Jubilee."
He added: "These honours are sparingly bestowed as a mark of special distinction and the accolades were richly deserved by the winners."
One town from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland had been expected to win city status as part of the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne.
Entries came from 26 towns in England, six in Wales, four in Scotland and six in Northern Ireland.
But two were chosen from Northern Ireland after the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Lord Chancellor and the Queen agreed to make a special exception on this occasion.
Councils working on their applications were told three main factors would be taken into account: notable features, including regional or national significance, historical and Royal features and a "forward-looking attitude".
Lord Irvine said the Queen made her decision after taking advice from ministers.
City status carries no special powers for the winners but it is deemed such an honour that only 17 were made during the 20th century.
Brighton and Hove, Inverness and Wolverhampton were the last towns to be granted city status when the award was made to mark the Millennium.
A total of 17 cities entered the separate competition to be made a Lord Mayoralty.
The award, which allows Exeter to call its mayor Lord Mayor, was last awarded in 1992, when Chester was honoured to mark the 40th anniversary of the Queen's accession.
Entrants were told a key factor was whether the city had a character and dignity of its own.
And the losers ...
English towns pipped at the post for city status were: Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Bolton, Chelmsford, Colchester, Croydon, Doncaster, Dover, Greenwich, Guildford, Ipswich, Luton, Maidstone, Medway, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Northampton, Reading, Shrewsbury and Atcham, Southend-on-Sea, Stockport, Swindon, Telford, Warrington and Wirral.
Welsh towns that missed out were: Aberystwyth, Machynlleth, Newtown, St Asaph and Wrexham.
Ayr, Dumfries and Paisley were over-looked in Scotland, while Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Coleraine and Craigavon were the unlucky Irish entrants.
Bath, Cambridge, Carlisle, Chichester, Derby, Gloucester, Lancaster, Lincoln, St Albans, St David's, Salford, Southampton, Sunderland, Truro, Wolverhampton and Worcester were cities that missed out in the mayoralty competition.
EGGD From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2001, 12443 posts, RR: 33
Reply 7, posted (13 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 1217 times:
I'd say Stockport, Swindon and Ipswich are biggest out of those, I still don't know why Stockport isn't a City (if you've ever driven from one side to the other through the centre you'll see why, it 'feels' like a city)..