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State Opening of Parliament - See the Queen in London

Usually this Royal event is held in October or November. It is the most colourful event in the Parliamentary calendar. It is very symbolic in nature. We see the Queen open a new session of Parliament. This incorporates "the Crown" into the laws made by parliament in London.

Steeped in Tradition and History

Being a long-standing tradition, the ceremony has a few parts to it that tell us of history. One example of this is a custom where a hostage MP must be held at Buckingham Palace. This was originally to ensure the monarch's safe return to Buckingham Palace. This practice dates back to a time when both parties were on less genial terms.

Another tradition is the the Yeomen of the Guard search the cellars of the the Houses of Parliament. This is to be sure that there are no plots afoot to blow up Westminster Palace. This tradition dates back to the Gunpowder Plot and Guy Fawkes.

Seeing the Queen During the Ceremony

Once these precautionary measure have taken place the King or Queen is safe. The Royal Family will travel in a "State Coach". Spectators can see the Queen and family processing from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster. The best available points to view from are; from Buckingham Palace, on the Mall and on Whitehall. Her Royal Highness is usually accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh on this occasion.

Black Rod - The Rights of the Queen's Messengers

At the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) the historic figure of Black Rod appears. Black Rod is The Queen's Messenger. He knocks on the doors of the house of Common's with, surprisingly enough what looks like a black rod. He is trying to gain entry for the sovereign. Traditionally the doors are firmly slammed in Black Rod's face. The doors are reopened. The messenger gives the Speaker of the House the Sovereigns a summons from the sovereign. Members of the Commons then arrive in the Palace of Westminster. This tradition is a reminder that the House of Commons has the right to exclude anyone from it, except the Sovereign's messengers.