The State Opening of Parliament on Monday 14 October marks the formal start of the parliamentary year. The Queen's Speech sets out the government’s agenda for the next session of Parliament and outlines proposed policies and laws.
What happens during State Opening?
State Opening is the main ceremonial event of the parliamentary calendar, drawing a significant audience online, on television and in person. 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 her 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.
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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 no vote is taken in the Lords.
Image: House of Lords 2019 / Photography by Roger Harris