Every year (with few exceptions) Her Majesty has attended the State Opening of Parliament (usually with the Duke of Edinburgh at her side) and has been the centre of the Pomp and Pageantry of one of the most splendid events in the royal calendar.
The Queen will open Parliament this year on 8th May, where she will drive by carriage to Westminster and read the speech from the throne, where she outlines what her Government propose for the next year.
It is the only speech that is not written by Her Majesty herself, but by her ministers.
It is also the only occasion (other than after a coronation) when the Imperial State Crown is worn by the Sovereign.
This year, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales is to attend too, which he hasn’t done since 1991. HRH The Duchess of Cornwall will also join them, for the first time.
It is logical in some ways to bring Prince Charles along, because one day this will be his duty.
The traditional feel of the State Opening is something that is felt by all generations. In Parliament, though the Prime Minister is the Leader, it’s very clear where the executive power lies. Some of the traditions on the day of the State Opening include the ceremonial searching of the cellars, a hark back to the days of the Gunpowder plot, where Guy Fawkes was discovered in the cellars of Parliament and wished to blow it up, and ever since the Yeoman of the Guard have searched the cellars every year; the ceremonial slamming of the door of the House of Commons in Black Rod’s (The Queen’s Messenger’s) face; the Policeman (or woman) shouting ‘hats off strangers’ as the Lord Speaker’s procession passes and even the basic trumpet fanfare played upon The Queen’s arrival and departure in the Houses of Parliament.
Look out for our complete guide to the State Opening of Parliament on site in the next few days.