Offices and Ceremonies: Contemporary Context

Parliamentary officers and ceremonies known from antiquity continue in existence today, and embody both institutional continuity and change.

Parliamentary ceremonies can be observed by the public; indeed, some ceremonies – such as the Speaker’s procession – are expressly designed to be viewed by the public. Major events such as the State Opening are today broadcast live on television and have become popular media events, complete with live blogging and tweeting by journalists and politicians. They are replete with symbolic reminders of formative events in Parliament’s history.

Key officials of the House of Commons and House of Lords are identifiable by visitors because of their distinctive uniforms and robes – some of which consist of wigs and traditional court dress and shoes – and by their prominent physical positions within their respective chambers.  Although ancient, these offices have evolved constantly and many have experienced significant moments of modernisation and reform so they can provide a better service to Parliamentarians and confirm to changing ideals of parliamentary democracy.

Page last updated June 2016.

Related information

UK Parliament's photostream on Flickr for spectacular shots of magnificent ceremonies and behind-the-scenes shots of officials at work

Keep up to date with the comings and goings of the Speaker, the Commons' representative

Keep up to date with the Lord Speaker's engagements and news