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Queen's Speech and State Opening of Parliament

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The Queen's Speech during the State Opening of Parliament, October 2019. UK Parliament / CC BY-NC 2.0

State Opening, with the Queen’s Speech at its centre, is the key ceremonial and constitutional event at the start of a new Session of Parliament. Our 3 short guides below set out what the occasion is, what happens on the day, and how the Queen's Speech is then debated.

What are the Queen's Speech and the State Opening of Parliament?

The Queen's Speech is the vehicle through which the Government sets out its legislative programme for a new Session of Parliament. The Speech is the central element of the State Opening of Parliament, the key constitutional and ceremonial occasion at the start of a new parliamentary Session.

The Queen's Speech during the State Opening of Parliament, October 2019,. UK Parliament / CC BY-NC 2.0
The Royal Procession during the State Opening of Parliament, October 2019. UK Parliament / CC BY-NC 2.0

What happens on the day of the Queen's Speech and State Opening of Parliament?

During State Opening, the Queen processes through the Royal Gallery, in the House of Lords part of the Palace of Westminster, before delivering the Speech from the Throne in the House of Lords Chamber. She does so in the presence of Members of the House of Commons, who respond to the Queen's command to attend her by walking from their Chamber to the Lords'. State Opening is the largest and most elaborate ceremonial occasion in the regular parliamentary calendar. It is rich in history and constitutional symbolism, and is also of immediate political interest and importance.

What is the Queen's Speech debate and how does it take place?

In the Queen's Speech debate, the House of Commons and House of Lords debate their responses to the Speech. The debate lasts for several days in each House, and provides an occasion for a wide-ranging and constitutionally significant debate on the Government's policies and programme.

House of Commons Speaker Rt Hon Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP. UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor