• Wed, Nov 18 2009

Queen Elizabeth Opens 2009 British Parliament

Queen Elizabeth has once again graced the opening of the British parliament, the event that is the most regal in her annual schedule.

Very little varies from year to year in the ceremony at the House of Lords in London’s Westminster Palace. Several parts of the ceremony, such as a search of the palace cellars and Buckingham Palace’s taking of a “hostage” from the House of Commons, are performed purely for the sake of tradition, which may go back as far as 1605 (in the case of the cellar search).

Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by Prince Philip, arrives, wearing the King George IV Diadem, which was made in 1820.

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The Imperial State Crown is taken to Westminster on a separate horse-drawn carriage from the Queen. The monarch swaps her diadem for the State Crown, proceeds to the throne and delivers her speech to the combined House of Lords and House of Commons.

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In her speech, she outlines the British government’s plans for the coming year, as well as State Visits that have been planned. (Full text of this year’s speech here.)

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After her speech, the Queen leaves, and the ceremony continues in her absence.

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And so, another year begins in the British parliament and the Imperial State Crown returns to the Tower of London for safekeeping.

Till next year’s Parliament Opening!

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images via Zuma Press

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