On Monday, October 14, the State Opening of Parliament marked the beginning of the parliamentary year. The ceremonial event was followed by HM the Queen’s speech which outlined the government’s agenda for the upcoming parliamentary session.
State Opening is the main ceremonial event of the parliamentary calendar. It serves as a symbol that reminds of the unity between the three parts of the Parliament: the Sovereign, the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and is also the only “regular” meeting those have.
The ceremony begins with the Queen’s procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster. Marching guards, bands and the Household Cavalry escort HM the Queen as she passes through the road towards Sovereign’s Entrance.
The Queen’s representative in Parliament, the House of Lords, summons 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.
The doors open and the ceremony continues in the Lords chamber with the Queen’s speech. Although she is the one reading it, it is written by the government and outlines all proposed policies and laws.
On the Day:
While many students were traumatised by their morning lectures, some appreciated being able to witness the official start of this parliamentary year. Isabella Fazio, an exchange student from George Washington University, went as early as 8 a.m. – two hours before the start of the ceremony – in order to secure a better place.
However, it turns out that not so many people had the chance to see the ceremony in person. According to Isabella, “there were not many people camping out with chairs, and it was mainly tourists walking around.” She further mentions some policemen were a bit unfriendly, not providing any information of the road HM the Queen was about to come from.
As Brexit is a hot topic at the moment, it is of no surprise that “there were lots of Brexit protesters”. Isabella said:
“We even saw a fight between pro-EU and pro-Brexit protesters. I also remember seeing the flag for the people who had the climate protest in Trafalgar Square.”
No violent or bigger protests occurred and no police interference was needed. Moreover, “the crown was brought separately and came before the Queen herself”.
Although Isabella expected a larger crowd, she shares she was extremely impressed. She said: “I loved it! I’m a sucker for tradition and pomp and circumstance, and this event had all of it. It was all very grand. The preparation that went into all of it was astounding. Just so she could travel such little distance! Overall, one of my favorite things that I’ve done in London.”
Photos taken by Alexis Burns
Video taken by Isabella Fazio