This morning as I was dashing along Whitehall for some administrative errands, I noticed the Union Jack flags were beginning to take over Parliament square in preparation for the ceremony tomorrow; the annual State Opening of Parliament.
Every year, there is a State Opening of Parliament to officially mark the beginning of a new parliamentary year. This is the only time the Queen performs her ‘duty’ by outlining the government’s agenda for the upcoming year. Tomorrow, Wednesday 18th May 2016 will be the date of the new State Opening and I was thrilled to win a ballot to view the ceremony from Central Lobby.
What actually happens at the ceremony?
The Queen will arrive at the Palace via the Soveriegn’s Entrance. She will walk up the steps with her Ladies-in-waiting to the Robing Room, where she will wear the Imperial State Crown and the Robe of State. The Queen will then lead the Royal Procession through the Royal Gallery to the Lords’ Chamber.
As part of a tradition, the Black Rod will then be sent to summon the Commons. The door will be shut on his face and he will tap the door three times before it is open. Members of the Lower House will then be led by the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers and all 650 MPs will walk up to the Bar of the House to hear the Queen’s Speech.
The Queen will then lay out the Government’s proposals for the next Parliament. Once the Queen leaves, the new parliamentary session and Members in the Commons will have the opportunity to vote in the Speech.
This ceremony dates back to the 16th Century.
On the year of Her Majesty’s birthday, it certainly is an exciting time to be in Parliament for the opening!