State Opening of Parliament

The King officially opens Parliament with an event steeped in tradition. The State Opening is the only regular event to unite the three elements of legislature – the House of Lords, the House of Commons and the Sovereign – together as the Crown in Parliament.

The King and Queen attend State Opening of Parliament

On Tuesday 7th November 2023, The King opened Parliament for the first time as Sovereign. 

What happens during the State Opening?

The King and Queen travel to the Palace of Westminster in a State coach, escorted by the Household Cavalry. The Imperial State Crown and regalia travels in front of The King in a carriage of its own.

Upon arrival, Their Majesties proceed to the Robing Room where they are bedecked in long Robes of State. The King then leads the Royal Procession through the Royal Gallery, to the chamber of the House of Lords. 

The King and Queen attend State Opening of Parliament

Members of the House of Lords wear appropriate ceremonial robes, and judges of the High Court of Justice wear their wigs.

The House of Lords official known as 'Black Rod' is then sent to summon the House of Commons. The door to the Commons is first symbolically slammed in his face, which symbolises the Commons' independence from the monarchy. Black Rod then strikes the door loudly three times with an ebony staff, or rod, before it is opened, and the 250 Members of the House of Commons follow to the Lords Chamber, to stand at the opposite end to The King's Throne. 

The King's Speech

Before either House can proceed to public business, The King must officially open Parliament by addressing both Houses in The King's Speech. The Speech is not drafted by The King, but by the Government, outlining plans and future legislation. The speech is carried by the Lord Chancellor in a special silk bag, and presented to The King on bended knee.

Once The King has departed, members of both Houses debate the content of the Speech and agree an 'Address in Reply to His Majesty's Gracious Speech'. 


Watching the State Opening

Spectators can view the procession to Parliament from The Mall and Whitehall. The ceremony is also broadcast live on television.

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