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In the United Kingdom, the State Opening of Parliamentis an event that marks the commencement of a session of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and that includes a Speech from the Throne. In many other countries, a similar speech from the throne is given by their head of state to their national legislature at or near the opening of a new legislative session.

The State Opening was up to 2011 held in the House of Lords Chamber, usually in November or December or, in a general election year, when the new Parliament first assembled. In 1974, when two general elections were held, there were two State Openings.

However, from 2012 onwards the ceremony will take place in May. This is owing to the introduction in 2011 of fixed term parliaments of five years in length, with parliamentary elections being subsequently held in the May of every year divisible by five, with the next such election being scheduled for 2015. The 2012 ceremony took place on 9 May 2012.

The current Sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II, has opened every session of the Westminster Parliament since her accession except in 1959 and 1963 when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, respectively. These two sessions were opened by Lords Commissioners, headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury (Geoffrey Fisher in 1959 and Michael Ramsey in 1963), empowered by Her Majesty. The Lord Chancellor (The Viscount Kilmuir in 1959 The Lord Dilhorne in 1963) read the Queen's Speech on those occasions.

he Queen arrives at the Palace of Westminster in a horse-drawn coach, entering through Sovereign's Entrance under the Victoria Tower. Traditionally, members of the armed forces line the procession route from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster. The Royal Standard is hoisted to replace the Union Flag upon the Sovereign's entrance and remains whilst she is in attendance. Then, after she takes on the Parliament Robe of State and Imperial State Crown in the Robing Chamber, the Queen proceeds through the Royal Gallery to the House of Lords, usually accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and immediately preceded by the Lord Great Chamberlain and the Earl Marshal, and by one peer (usually the Leader of the House of Lords) carrying the Cap of Maintenance on a white rod, and another peer (generally a retired senior military officer) carrying the Great Sword of State. Once on the throne, the Queen, wearing the Imperial State Crown, instructs the House by saying, "My Lords, pray be seated".

Motioned by the Monarch, the Lord Great Chamberlain raises his wand of office to signal to the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod (known as Black Rod), who is charged with summoning the House of Commons and has been waiting in the Commons lobby. Black Rod turns and, under the escort of the Doorkeeper of the House of Lords and an inspector of police (who orders "Hats off, Strangers!" To all persons along the way), approaches the doors to the Chamber of the Commons. The doors are slammed in his face upon his approach - symbolising the independence of the Commons and its right to debate without the presence of the Queen's Representative. He then strikes three times with his staff (the Black Rod), and is then admitted. At the bar, Black Rod bows to the speaker before proceeding to the dispatch box and issuing the command of the monarch that the Commons attend, in the following formula:

"Mr Speaker, The Queen commands this honourable House [pauses to bow to both sides of the House] to attend Her Majesty immediately in the House of Peers."

By unofficial tradition, in recent years this has been greeted with a sarcastic comment by republican Labour MP Dennis Skinner.

The Speaker proceeds to attend the summons at once. The Serjeant-at-Arms picks up the ceremonial mace and, with the Speaker and Black Rod, leads the Members of the House of Commons as they walk, in pairs, towards the House of Lords. By custom, the members saunter, with much discussion and joking, rather than formally process. The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition usually walk side-by-side, leading the two lines of MPs. The Commons then arrive at the Bar of the House of Lords (no person who is not a member of the Upper House may pass the Bar unbidden when it is in session; a similar rule applies to the Commons), where they bow to The Queen . They remain at the Bar for the speech.

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