Companion to the Standing Orders and Guide to the Proceedings of the House of Lords - Contents


APPENDIX E: THE QUEEN'S SPEECH

FIRST SESSION OF A NEW PARLIAMENT

BY THE QUEEN IN PERSON[102]

The State Opening of Parliament usually takes place in the morning. The Lords are attired in their Parliament robes or such other dress as may be approved by the Earl Marshal on behalf of the Queen. Certain members of the royal family and spouses of members of the House who are successful in the ballot for places are seated on the floor of the House. An enclosure is reserved for the Diplomatic Corps. Judges are seated on the Woolsacks in their robes.

The Queen is met at the Sovereign's Entrance by the Lord Great Chamberlain and moves up the stairs preceded by the Earl Marshal, Lord Great Chamberlain, Lord Chancellor (with the Purse containing the Queen's Speech), Lord Speaker and Lord Privy Seal. They proceed to the Robing Room where the Queen robes and puts on the Crown and regalia. A procession is formed, marshalled by the Earl Marshal, and proceeds through the Royal Gallery and the Prince's Chamber to the Chamber of the House of Lords. When Her Majesty has taken Her seat on the Throne, the Lord Speaker and Lord Chancellor stand on Her right at the foot of the steps of the Throne. The Queen is attended by the Officers of State. The Queen then commands Black Rod, through the Lord Great Chamberlain, to summon the Commons, which he does in these words:

"Mr/Madam Speaker,

The Queen commands this honourable House to attend Her Majesty immediately in the House of Peers."

The Commons come from their Chamber and advance to the Bar with their Speaker, bowing once only at the Bar.

Her Majesty then delivers Her Speech from the Throne.

It is also possible for the Queen's Speech to be read by the Lord Chancellor, standing on one of the lower steps of the Throne in the presence of the Sovereign. This was done during the reign of George I and in the later years of Queen Victoria.

The Queen then retires. The Commons withdraw, bowing once.

BY ROYAL COMMISSION

If the Queen is not present, there is no State Opening. The Queen's Speech is delivered by the Lord Chancellor, or by one of the other Lords Commissioners, by virtue of the Royal Commission for opening Parliament.

At the hour appointed, usually in the morning, the Lords Commissioners enter the Chamber, and the Commons are summoned (see appendix C pages 250-251).

The Lord Chancellor says:

"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

We are commanded to deliver to you Her Majesty's Speech in Her Majesty's own words."

The Lord Chancellor, remaining seated and with his hat on, then delivers the Speech.

Then the Commons and the Commissioners depart (see appendix C page 250).

A further opportunity may then be given for Lords to take the oath. The Lord Speaker, in this case, takes her seat on the Woolsack and prayers are read. After the Lords present have taken the oath, or at a time previously fixed, the House is adjourned during pleasure until the time fixed for the meeting in the afternoon.

SUBSEQUENT SESSIONS

BY THE QUEEN IN PERSON

If the Queen opens subsequent sessions in person, the ceremony is similar to that described above for the delivery of the Queen's Speech at the beginning of a new Parliament.

BY ROYAL COMMISSION

When the Queen is not present, her functions are performed by Lords Commissioners.

The Lords Commissioners enter the Chamber, and the Commons are summoned (see appendix C pages 250-251).

The Lord Chancellor says:

"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

We are commanded by Her Majesty to let you know that, it not being convenient for Her to be present here this day in Her Royal Person, She has thought fit by Letters Patent under the Great Seal to empower several Lords therein named to do all things in Her Majesty's Name which are to be done on Her Majesty's part in this Parliament, as by the Letters Patent will more fully appear."

The Commission is read (see appendix C page 250).

The Lord Chancellor then says:

"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

We are commanded to deliver to you Her Majesty's Speech in Her Majesty's own words."

The Lord Chancellor, remaining seated and covered, then delivers the Speech.

Then the Commons and the Lords Commissioners depart (see appendix C page 250). The Lord Speaker then takes her seat on the Woolsack, and the House adjourns during pleasure until the meeting of the House in the afternoon.


102   SO 1. Back


 
previous page contents next page


© Parliamentary copyright 2013