State Opening of Parliament 2017

The Palace of Westminster
20 June 2017

The State Opening of Parliament on Wednesday 21 June marks the formal start of the parliamentary year and the Queen's Speech sets out the government’s agenda for the 2017-18 session, outlining proposed policies and legislation.

What happens during State Opening?

State Opening is the main ceremonial event of the parliamentary calendar, usually drawing large crowds and a significant television and online audience. It begins with the Queen's procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster.

The Queen arrives at Sovereign's Entrance and proceeds to the Robing Room. She leads the Royal Procession through the Royal Gallery to the chamber of the House of Lords.

The Queen’s representative in Parliament, the House of Lords official known as Black Rod, is sent to summon the House of Commons. The doors to the Commons chamber are shut in his face, a practice dating back to the Civil War. This symbolises the Commons' independence from the monarchy. Black Rod strikes the door three times before it is opened. Members of the Commons then follow Black Rod and the Commons Speaker to the Lords chamber, standing at the opposite end to the Throne to listen to the speech.

You can follow the events of the day on the House of Lords, House of Commons and UK Parliament Twitter channels.

The Queen's Speech

The Queen's Speech is delivered by the Queen from the Throne in the House of Lords. Although the Queen reads the speech, it is written by the government. It contains an outline of its policies and proposed legislation for the new parliamentary session.

After the Queen's Speech

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

Each House continues to debate the planned legislative programme for several days, looking at different subject areas. The Queen's Speech is voted on by the Commons, but only rarely in the Lords.

What's new about the 2017 ceremony?

Since 2010, the State Opening of Parliament has usually taken place in May or the first week of June.

Following the government's announcement that the general election would take place on 8 June 2017, a date for State Opening was set for 21 June. This is four days after the Queen's Birthday Parade.

Due to the revised calendar, the State Opening of Parliament will take place with reduced ceremonial elements.

This change has arisen due to the unique circumstances of the general election.

What will happen in the next ceremony?

The intention is for subsequent ceremonies to return to normal, with full regalia and procession.

Further information

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