State Opening of Parliament 2012
Queen Elizabeth II today presided over the State Opening of Parliament which commenced a new session of the British Parliament. Her Majesty also delivered a speech which outlined her Government’s policies for the upcoming year. Among the key points of the speech, which lasted approximately 10 minutes, were family friendly-policies, plans to make inter-racial adoption easier, as well as the long-delayed reforms in the House of Lords.
Before the Sovereign’s arrival, the basements had been searched by the Yeomen of the Guard to avoid another Gunpowder Plot. As part of the traditions of the day, a member of the House of Commons was taken as a “hostage”, to guarantee the Monarch’s safety against a possibly-hostile Parliament. The hostage (Mark Francois this year) was released upon the Queen’s safe return.
Hundreds of people lined the streets outside Parliament to see one of the most magnificent displays of pomp and pageantry Britain can offer. Her Majesty’s ceremonial horse-drawn carriage travelled from Buckingham Palace amid fanfare and cheers. In keeping with tradition, The Imperial State Crown made the journey in a separate state coach, under watchful eyes of its very own protection officers. The Monarch arrived at the House of Lords at about 11 o’clock, donning the Crown and royal regalia in the appropriately-named Robing Room of the Palace of Westminster.
The atmosphere in the House of Lords was, as always, joyful but solemn. Peers were wearing their red parliamentary robes, judiciary – their wigs, while visitors put on their very best attire. And no wonder; the significance of the Queen’s Speech is immense since it is the one event that brings together the three elements that make up Parliament – the Sovereign, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. The Queen’s arrival is rehearsed to perfection; those who had the privilege to be seated were given programme of the ceremonies – “The Ceremonial to be Observed at the Opening of Parliament, by Her Majesty the Queen”. The programme details the “Order of Procession”; during the procession, Her Majesty is surrounded by other important components of the ceremony, including the Garter King of Arms, the Cap of Maintenance, the Norroy and Ulster King of Arms.
Once Her Majesty arrived and was seated on the Throne alongside Prince Philip, her official messenger, known as the Black Rod, was sent to the House of Commons to summon lawmakers for the Monarch’s speech. By tradition, the door of the Commons is slammed in Black Rod’s face to symbolise the independence of the Members of the Parliament. To be let in, he was required to pound on the door three times with his rod; Prime Minister David Cameron, leader of the opposition Ed Miliband, and other MPs then walked together to the Commons. And then, the most important part of the ceremony commenced: the Sovereign delivered her speech.
Jewellery and Gown:
Her Majesty arrived wearing a beautiful silver gown with crystal embellishments, and one of her most stunning white fur coats. After arriving, she put on the Parliament Robe of State and the insignia of the Order of Garter.
As is the custom, the Monarch doesn’t put on the Imperial State Crown (which arrives separately) until after she enters the Palace of Westminster; instead, she was wearing one of her most recognisable crowns – King George IV State Diadem. Another striking piece was the stunning Festoon Necklace; the three strand diamond necklace was commissioned in 1947 by King George VI to find a use to some of the loose diamonds he had inherited. The necklace consists of three rows of diamonds with a triangle motif, containing over 150 brilliant cut diamonds. The minimum weight of the necklace is estimated to be 175 carats. Matching diamond earrings gave the last regal touch to the look.Filed under The United Kingdom
Tagged Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Fashion, Imperial State Crown, Jewellery, Parliament, The Duke of Edinburgh.