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State Opening of Parliament

The State Opening of Parliament marks the formal start of the parliamentary year and the Queen's Speech sets out the government’s agenda for the new session.

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COVID-19

The ceremony on Tuesday 11 May 2021 will be reduced and different to previous years. It will comply with COVID-secure measures and social distancing regulations. No guests will attend.

What is State Opening?

The State Opening of Parliament marks the start of the parliamentary year. 

State Opening is main ceremonial event in the parliamentary calendar. For over 500 years, it has served as a symbolic reminder of the unity of Parliament's three parts: the Sovereign, the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

When is State Opening?

State Opening takes place on the first day of a new parliamentary session.

Parliament's 2019–21 session came to a close with a 'prorogation' announcement on Thursday 29 April 2021. The next State Opening of Parliament, the start of the new session, is on Tuesday 11 May.

The timings for 11 May are the same as in previous years: the main elements of the ceremony take place between 11am and 12.30pm

What is the Queen's Speech?

The Queen's Speech is written by the government. It sets out the government agenda for Parliament's new session. 

It is read out by the Queen from the Throne in the House of Lords chamber

What do members of the House of Lords wear?

The State Opening of Parliament is a state occasion, it is not a sitting of the House of Lords. It is the only regular occasion members of the House of Lords wear parliamentary robes: they wear normal business dress when the House is sitting.

What happens in the Lords after State Opening?

When the Queen leaves, a new session starts and the House of Lords gets back to work to debate the content of the speech. 

Members debate the different subject areas of the Queen's Speech over five days. After which, bills start to get introduced in the Lords and it begins its year's work of debating, amending and passing legislation, and holding the government to account. 

Can I watch the State Opening?

Yes. State Opening is broadcast live on Parliament TV and there will be a live stream on House of Lords Twitter

Further information

Queen's Speech: previous State Openings

Please note that this is the complete list of the Queen's Speech available electronically from the UK Parliament website. If you are interested in finding earlier editions, please contact the Parliamentary Archives.

Image: State Opening 2021 / Roger Harris