In Pictures: Ceremonial pomp and pageantry at the State Opening of Parliament

Masked Yeoman Warders march along the Royal Gallery during the ceremonial search of the Palace of Westminster ahead of the State Opening of Parliament by the Queen
Masked Yeoman Warders march along the Royal Gallery during the ceremonial search of the Palace of Westminster ahead of the State Opening of Parliament by the Queen (PA Wire)
12:09pm, Tue 11 May 2021
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Filled with pomp and ceremony, the Queen’s Speech takes place at the formal start of the parliamentary year and sets out the Government’s agenda for the coming session.

Flagpoles were erected in Parliament Square ahead of the traditional State Opening of Parliament (PA Wire)

It is the only regular time when the three parts which make up Parliament – the Sovereign, the House of Lords and the House of Commons – come together.

A parliamentary official walks past a cleaner in the Central Lobby (PA Wire)

State Opening is the main ceremonial event of the parliamentary calendar, normally attracting large crowds and a significant television and online audience.

But the Government has said that, in light of the pandemic, this year’s State Opening would be adapted, with reduced ceremonial elements and attendees to ensure it is Covid-secure.

A security officer keeps watch at the Palace of Westminster (PA Wire)

Fewer MPs and peers were in attendance and there were no diplomatic or non-parliamentary guests.

House of Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg wears a mask in Central Lobby (PA Wire)

The event starts with the Queen’s procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster, escorted by the Household Cavalry.

The Queen arrives at Sovereign’s Entrance and proceeds to the Robing Room. Wearing the Imperial State Crown and the Robe of State, she leads the Royal Procession through the Royal Gallery to the chamber of the House of Lords.

The Imperial State Crown leaves Buckingham Palace by car (PA Wire)
The Imperial State Crown is taken to the Palace of Westminster (PA Wire)

The Royal Procession was reduced this year to make it Covid-secure.

The Great Sword of State, and the Cap of Maintenance is taken from Buckingham Palace to Westminster (PA Wire)

The House of Lords official known as Black Rod is sent to summon the House of Commons. The doors to the Commons chamber are shut in his or her face, symbolising the Commons’ independence from the monarchy.

Black Rod strikes the door three times before it is opened. Members of the Commons then follow Black Rod and the Commons Speaker to the Lords chamber, standing at the opposite end to the Throne, known as the Bar of the House, to listen to the speech.

The Prince of Wales arrives at Westminster (PA Wire)
Charles is accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall (PA Wire)

The Queen’s Speech was delivered by the Queen from the Throne in the House of Lords.

The Queen leaves Buckingham Palace to deliver the speech (PA Wire)

Although the Queen reads the Speech, it is written by the Government. It contains an outline of its policies and proposed legislation for the new parliamentary session.

The convoy carrying the Queen leaving Buckingham Palace (PA Wire)

When the Queen leaves, a new parliamentary session starts and Parliament gets back to work. Members of both Houses debate the content of the speech and agree an “Address in Reply to Her Majesty’s Gracious Speech”. Each House continues the debate over the planned legislative programme for several days, looking at different subject areas. The Queen’s Speech is voted on by the Commons, but rarely in the Lords.

The Queen arrives for the State Opening of Parliament (PA Wire)

Traditions surrounding State Opening and the delivery of a speech by the monarch can be traced back as far as the 16th century. The current ceremony dates from the opening of the rebuilt Palace of Westminster in 1852 after the fire of 1834.

The Queen delivers her speech (PA Wire)

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