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State Opening: The public sequence of events

The public elements of the ceremony begin just before 11am, when members of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment lead the procession from Buckingham Palace.

The Sovereign travels, since 1852, in the Irish State Coach, an ornate, enclosed, four-horse-drawn carriage. A coach carrying the royal regalia - the Imperial State Crown, the Cap of Maintenance and Sword of State – precedes the monarch.

The Sovereign's Bargemaster and four Royal Watermen serve as boxmen on the coaches, acting as ceremonial bodyguards of the King and guards of the regalia.

The royal procession

The royal procession procedes makes its way along The Mall, through Horse Guards Parade, down Whitehall and Parliament Street. All along the route are posted members of Britain's armed forces who ‘present arms' as the royal party passes. They contribute to the pageantry of the day as well as provide security and crowd control.

The procession arrives at the Palace of Westminster at 11.15am. The King enters through the Sovereign's Entrance under the Victoria Tower, at the opposite end of the palace to Big Ben, and the royal standard replaces the union flag over Westminster until the King leaves the Palace at the end of the ceremony.

Inside the Palace, the King dons the Imperial State Crown and ceremonial robes before making his way to the House of Lords, attended by various members of the Royal Household.

Within Parliament

The assembly in the House of Lords chamber includes members of the Lords, dressed in traditional scarlet robes and ermine capes, ambassadors and high commissioners, judges, and visiting dignitaries and heads of state.

The King is seated on the throne in the Lords chamber at approximately 11.30am. A well-known tradition of the ceremony commences: Black Rod is dispatched to the House of Commons to summon MPs to hear the King's Speech.

Upon Black Rod's approach, the Serjeant at Arms of the Commons slams the doors in her face. She knocks ceremonially upon the doors three times and is given permission to enter. Black Rod then approachs the Table and announces the King's summons.

This ritual symbolises the right of the Commons to exclude royal messengers, and commemorates the events of 1642, the last time a sovereign entered the Commons, when King Charles I tried to arrest five MPs.

The Commons' Speaker and Black Rod then lead MPs in procession to the House of Lords. Tradition has it that MPs amble to the Lords noisily, to show their independence.

MPs crowd into the space between the doors and the bar of the chamber to hear the Speech from the Throne, which is delivered in a neutral tone by the King and received in silence by the assembly.

After the speech, the King returns by coach to Buckingham Palace. His exit is heralded by military trumpeters, and the royal standard is replaced by the union flag.

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