State Opening: timetable of events

State Opening, one of the most colourful events of the parliamentary year, takes place at the Palace of Westminster. The monarch formally opens Parliament and delivers the Queen's Speech – written by the government – which sets out Parliament's agenda for the coming year.

Timetable of events

  • Royal Procession – the Queen leaves Buckingham Palace in a carriage procession that makes its way through the streets to the Houses of Parliament.

  • Palace of Westminster: 11.15am (approx.) – the Queen arrives at Sovereign's Entrance at the Houses of Parliament.

  • Queen's Speech: 11.30am (approx.) – the Queen reads out the speech from the Throne in the House of Lords.

  • Motion for Humble Address: 2.30pm (Commons) and 3.30pm (Lords) – both the Commons and Lords thank the Queen for the speech and both Houses begin debating the government's legislative programme.

Who attends the State Opening ceremony in the Lords chamber?

Members of both Houses and guests including judges, ambassadors and high commissioners gather in the Lords chamber for the speech.

Can I attend the State Opening ceremony?

Members of the public cannot attend the State Opening itself.

Roads around the Houses of Parliament are subject to closure before the ceremony.

However, members of the public can gain access to Parliament in the afternoon – when normal business resumes.

What happens after the ceremony?

Parliament goes back to work straight away - the new session begins in the afternoon.

Each House meets separately to begin debating the government's programme of legislation and policies outlined in the Queen's Speech.

Further information

Find out about the debates taking place and other parliamentary business.

Image: Parliamentary copyright

State Opening explained

State Opening explained

Read more about how State Opening of Parliament works

State Opening of Parliament (PDF PDF 646 KB)

Related information

Further information

State Opening explained on YouTube

Watch the Lord Speaker, Baroness D'Souza, explain what State Opening means for the Lords:

State Opening tweets

Follow State Opening as it happens on Twitter:

Watch State Opening

Parliament broadcasts live coverage of the Queen's Speech