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State Opening: how it happens

Order of key events in the ceremony to mark the formal start to a new session of Parliament.

State Opening: how it happens

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Order of the day

Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster 

The Queen leaves Buckingham Palace in a procession that makes its way through the streets to the Houses of Parliament. The Queen arrives at Sovereign's Entrance. 

Royal Procession

The Queen emerges from the Robing Room before processing through the Royal Gallery to the House of Lords chamber. The Imperial State Crown, the Great Sword of State and the Cap of Maintenance, symbols of sovereign power and authority, are carried in front of the Queen.

Summons of the Commons

When the Queen is seated upon the Throne, the Queen instructs the Lord Great Chamberlain to signal to Black Rod to summon MPs from the House of Commons. MPs process to the Lords chamber, standing at the opposite end to the Throne to listen to the speech. 

Queen's Speech

The Queen reads out the speech, written by the government, from the Throne in the House of Lords.

The Queen leaves

When the Queen leaves, a new parliamentary session starts and Parliament gets back to work. Members debate the content of the speech and agree an ‘Address in Reply to Her Majesty’s Gracious Speech’. 

Timetable

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

  • 11.20am arrival of the Queen
  • 11.27am the Royal Procession 
  • 11.30am the Queen is seated on the Throne

On completion of the speech, the procession returns to the Robing Room prior to departure.

Watch the ceremony

State Opening is broadcast live on Parliament TV and streamed on the House of Lords Twitter feed.

COVID-19

State Opening 2021 will be a COVID-secure event. The ceremony will be adapted, with reduced elements and attendees.

Further information 

Image: Parliamentary copyright

State Opening explained

State Opening explained

Read more about the history of the State Opening of Parliament

State Opening of Parliament