Parliamentary occasions

Key business and ceremonial events - both regular and occasional - punctuate the parliamentary year.

Addresses to Members of Parliament

A State visit is often marked by a speech given to Members of both Houses of Parliament by the visiting head of State or Government.

Parliamentary sessions and sittings

A Parliament is the period of parliamentary time bewteen one general election and the next. Each Parliament is usually divided into five parliamentary years called 'sessions', beginning and ending in the spring.

State Opening of Parliament

The Imperial Crown of State. Copyright House of Lords 2019 / Photography by Roger Harris

The State Opening marks the beginning of the parliamentary session. The monarch formally opens Parliament, delivering an outline of the Government's proposed policies and legislation for the coming session in the Queen's Speech.


The end of a parliamentary session is known as prorogation: the period between the end of a session of Parliament and the State Opening of Parliament that begins the next session.

Recall of Parliament

During times when Parliament is not sitting, the Government can ask for the House of Commons to be recalled. The House of Lords is usually recalled at the same time.

Lord Chancellor's breakfast

Dating back to the Middle Ages, a service at Westminster Abbey, and a reception at the Houses of Parliament, heralds the start of the legal year


The formal occasion in which a coffin is placed on view to allow the public to pay their respects to the deceased, usually takes place at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall.

Rules and traditions of Parliament

The origins of Parliament go back to the 13th century, so there are many rules, customs and traditions that help explain its workings.