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 Monarch leaves Buckingham Palace in a procession that makes its way through the streets to the Houses of Parliament. The Monarch arrives at Sovereign's Entrance.
The Monarch 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 Monarch.
Summons of the Commons
When the Monarch is seated upon the Throne, the Monarch 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 Monarch reads out the speech, written by the government, from the Throne in the House of Lords.
The Monarch leaves
When the Monarch 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 His Majesty’s Gracious Speech’.
The main elements of the ceremony take place between 11am and 12.30pm, including:
- 11.20am arrival of the Monarch
- 11.27am the Royal Procession
- 11.30am the Monarch 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.
In 2022, Parliament was opened by the then Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge as Counsellors of State. The speech was read in the House of Lords chamber by the then Prince of Wales.
State Opening 2021 was a COVID-secure event. The ceremony was 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