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Dissolution of Parliament

The dissolution of Parliament took place on Thursday 30 May 2024. All business in the House of Commons and House of Lords has come to an end. There are currently no MPs and every seat in the Commons is vacant until after the general election on 4 July 2024.

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State Opening of Parliament December 2019

16 December 2019

Image of UK Parliament portcullis

The State Opening of Parliament on Thursday 19 December marks the start of the parliamentary year and the Queen's Speech sets out the government's agenda.

Parliamentary year

A ‘parliament' runs from one general election to the next. It is broken up into sessions which run for about a year – the ‘parliamentary year'. State Opening takes place on the first day of a new session.

Queen's Speech

The Queen's Speech marks the formal start to the year. Neither House can conduct any business until after it has been read.
Members of both Houses and guests including judges, ambassadors and high commissioners gather in the Lords chamber for the speech. Many wear national or ceremonial dress.

Setting the agenda

The speech is central to the State Opening ceremony because it sets out the government's legislative agenda for the year.

Back to work

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 Most Gracious Speech'.

The House of Lords continues to debate the content of the speech for several days, looking at the different subject areas.

What's different about the December 2019 ceremony?

Due to unique circumstances of the general election and the proximity to Christmas, the State Opening of Parliament will take place with reduced ceremonial elements.

The key differences will be as follows:

  • No horse-drawn carriages will be used. The Queen and the Regalia of State, including the Imperial State Crown, will travel to and from Parliament by car
  • The Queen will not wear the usual ceremonial robes or crown. Instead The Queen will wear a day dress and hat. There will be a reduced procession
  • The Prince of Wales will attend the ceremony; wearing a morning suit rather than a Service uniform

Further information

Image: House of Lords 2019 / Photography by Roger Harris