State Opening of Parliament

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State Opening of Parliament

Early November
This colorful British ritual is observed at the beginning of November when the members of Parliament return after the long summer recess. Crowds assemble in the streets of Westminster, an inner borough of Greater London, in hopes of catching a glimpse of the Queen as she arrives in her horse-drawn coach, dressed in royal robes of state and escorted by the Household Cavalry. The Queen is not allowed to enter the House of Commons because she is not a commoner, so after being met by the Lord Chancellor she is led straight to the House of Lords. Seated on a magnificent throne and surrounded by various church and state officials in their robes, she reads aloud the speech that has been written for her by members of the government outlining their plans for the coming session.
An interesting tradition that accompanies the opening of Parliament is the searching of the cellars of both Houses. This goes back to 1605, when Guy Fawkes and his accomplices tried to blow the Houses up.
CONTACTS:
United Kingdom Parliament, Parliamentary Education Unit
Room 604, Norman Shaw Bldg.
London, SW1A 2TT United Kingdom
44-20-7219-3074; fax: 44-20-7219-2570
www.parliament.uk
The British Monarchy Official Web Site
Buckingham Palace
London, SW1A 1AA United Kingdom
44-20-7930-4832
www.royal.gov.uk
SOURCES:
AnnivHol-2000, p. 199
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