Queen Elizabeth II has opened the 2012 parliamentary year in the United Kingdom’s Parliament at Westminster.
A State Opening of Parliament is the main ceremonial occasion of the parliamentary calendar. Escorted by the Household Cavalry, the Queen travels from Buckingham Palace to Westminster. She enters the House of Lords and directs Black Rod to summon the members of the House of Commons.
Black Rod, as the chief official of the House of Lords, is ceremonially denied entry to the Commons, a practice that symbolises the independence of the Commons from the monarchy. Black Rod knocks three times on the door of the Commons chamber. When admitted, he advises the Speaker that the Queen has summonsed members to the Lords. Members then proceed to the Bar of the House and listen to the Queen’s speech.
During today’s proceedings, as Black Rod summonsed members, Dennis Skinner, the 81-year-old Labour member for Bolsover, a seat he has held for 43 years, could be heard interjecting: “The Royal Mail for sale, Queen’s head privatised”. Some of Skinner’s jokes over the years can be found here.
The Queen delivers her speech from the Throne in the House of Lords. Today she was accompanied by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. It was the first time she has been accompanied to a State Opening by her son and heir. As TIME magazine noted this week: “After more than 60 years, the Elizabethan era is drawing to a close, and the Charlesian age is dawning.”
The Queen’s Speech is written by the government of the day. It allows the government to outline its policies and proposed legislation for new parliamentary session.
- Listen to the Queen’s Speech (8m)
- Download a UK Parliament Factsheet on the State Opening of Parliament (PDF)
Text of the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament.
My Lords and Members of the House of Commons
My Government’s legislative programme will continue to focus on building a stronger economy so that the United Kingdom can compete and succeed in the world.
It will also work to promote a fairer society that rewards people who work hard.
My Government’s first priority is to strengthen Britain’s economic competitiveness. To this end, it will support the growth of the private sector and the creation of more jobs and opportunities.
My Ministers will continue to prioritise measures that reduce the deficit – ensuring interest rates are kept low for homeowners and businesses. [Read more...]