State Opening of Parliament, 8 May 2013
Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by Prince Philip, travelled to Westminster in the Irish State Coach for the State Opening of Parliament.
The Queen wore the George IV State Diadem. The diadem is a crown that was made in 1820 for King George IV. The diadem is worn by queens and queens consort in procession to coronations and State Openings of Parliament. The diadem includes 1,333 diamonds weighing 320carats (64 g) and 169 pearls along its base. Its design features roses, thistles and shamrocks, the symbols of England, Scotland and Ireland respectively.
The original Irish State Coach was built in 1851 in Dublin. After the Second World War the Irish State Coach came to be used habitually by the monarch at the State Opening of Parliament. After 1988 the Australian State Coach was used on some occasions and in 1989 the opportunity was taken for a complete restoration of the Irish State Coach. Since then the Irish State Coach has continued to be used intermittently by the Queen for the State Opening of Parliament.
The State Opening of Parliament marks the commencement of a session of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. During this ceremony the Monarch reads the Queen’s Speech. The speech is not written by the Prime Minister and sets out the legislative agenda for the coming session of Parliament. The members of all three branches of government (legislative, executive and judiciary) are assembled in the House of Lords to hear the Queen reads out the speech.
From the Court Circular:
The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, travelled in State to the Palace of Westminster today to open the Session of Parliament. Her Majesty and His Royal Highness drove in a Carriage Procession, escorted by a Sovereign’s Escort of The Household Cavalry, under the command of Major Nicholas Stewart, The Life Guards, and were received at the Sovereign’s Entrance by the Earl Marshal and the Lord Great Chamberlain.
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall drove in a Carriage Procession, escorted by a Travelling Escort of the Household Cavalry, under the command of Major Simon Deverell, The Blues and Royals (Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons).
Guards of Honour were mounted at Buckingham Palace by The Queen’s Guard found by 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, under the command of Major Piers Ashfield, and at the Palace of Westminster by 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, under the command of Major Henry Llewelyn-Usher.
A staircase party of The Household Cavalry was on duty at Victoria Tower, House of Lords.
Royal Salutes were fired in Green Park by The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, under the command of Major Mark Edward, and from the Tower of London Saluting Battery by the Honourable Artillery Company, under the command of Major John Chorley.
The Imperial State Crown, the Cap of Maintenance and the Sword of State were conveyed previously to the House of Lords in a Carriage Procession, escorted by a Regalia Escort of The Household Cavalry.
Her Majesty’s Body Guard of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms was on duty in the Prince’s Chamber and The Queen’s Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard was on duty in the Royal Gallery. The Queen’s Bargemaster and Watermen were on duty. The Ladies and Gentlemen of the Household and the Pages of Honour to The Queen (Arthur Chatto, the Hon. Charles Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Aithrie and Hugo Bertie) were in attendance at the Palace of Westminster. Her Majesty and His Royal Highness returned to Buckingham Palace and were received by the Lord Chamberlain and the Vice-Chamberlain of the Household.
Information from the Ministry of Defence website:
In total 1,290 Armed Forces personnel took part in the Sate Opening of Parliament ceremony including Cavalry, troops lining the route and forming guards of honour and bands.
Soldiers from the Grenadier Guards, Coldstream Guards and Welsh Guards together with 4 half-companies of the Royal Air Force Regiment and 4 half-companies of the Royal Navy, lined the route of the procession from Buckingham Palace to the House of Lords while the Queen’s carriage was escorted by members of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.
Musical accompaniment was provided by the Royal Artillery Band, the Band of the Grenadier Guards, the Band of the Coldstream Guards, the Band of the Scots Guards, the Band of the Irish Guards, the Band of the Welsh Guards and the Band of the Honourable Artillery Company.
The General Officer Commanding London District, Major General George Norton, commanded the parade.
As the Queen reached the House of Lords, a 41-gun salute was fired by members of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, supported by the Royal Artillery Band, in Green Park.
A further 41-gun salute was be fired at midday at the Tower of London by the Army’s oldest regiment, the Honourable Artillery Company, which is part of the Territorial Army.
After the Queen’s procession returned to Buckingham Palace, the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery marched past Her Majesty, followed by the Sovereign’s Escort and Regalia Escort, formed by the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, and a Guard of Honour provided by members of the Grenadier Guards and the Welsh Guards.
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