State Opening: how it happens
Order of key events in the ceremony to mark the formal start to a new session of Parliament.
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.
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.
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’.
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 2021 will be a COVID-secure event. The ceremony will be adapted, with reduced elements and attendees.
- Lords publications: State Opening of Parliament
- State Opening explained
- State Opening: timetable of events
- What happens after State Opening
Image: Parliamentary copyright