Filled with pomp and ceremony, the Queen’s Speech took place at the formal start of the parliamentary year and set out the Government’s agenda for the coming session.
It is the only regular time when the three parts which make up Parliament – the Sovereign, the House of Lords and the House of Commons – come together.
State Opening is the main ceremonial event of the parliamentary calendar, normally attracting large crowds and a significant television and online audience.
But this year’s State Opening was adapted, with reduced ceremonial elements and attendees to ensure it was Covid-secure.
Fewer MPs and peers were in attendance and there were no diplomatic or non-parliamentary guests.
The event always starts with the Queen’s procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster, escorted by the Household Cavalry.
The Queen arrives at Sovereign’s Entrance and proceeds to the Robing Room. Wearing the Imperial State Crown and the Robe of State, she leads the Royal Procession through the Royal Gallery to the chamber of the House of Lords.
The Royal Procession was reduced this year to make it Covid-secure.
The House of Lords official known as Black Rod is sent to summon the House of Commons. The doors to the Commons chamber are shut in his or her face, symbolising the Commons’ independence from the monarchy.
Black Rod strikes the door three times before it is opened. Members of the Commons then follow Black Rod and the Commons Speaker to the Lords chamber, standing at the opposite end to the Throne, known as the Bar of the House, to listen to the speech.
The Queen’s Speech was delivered by the Queen from the Throne in the House of Lords.
Although the Queen reads the Speech, it is written by the Government. It contains an outline of its policies and proposed legislation for the new parliamentary session.
When the Queen leaves, a new parliamentary session starts and Parliament gets back to work. Members of both Houses debate the content of the speech and agree an “Address in Reply to Her Majesty’s Gracious Speech”. Each House continues the debate over the planned legislative programme for several days, looking at different subject areas. The Queen’s Speech is voted on by the Commons, but rarely in the Lords.
It was the monarch’s first Queen’s Speech following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.
Traditions surrounding State Opening and the delivery of a speech by the monarch can be traced back as far as the 16th century. The current ceremony dates from the opening of the rebuilt Palace of Westminster in 1852 after the fire of 1834.