What is the Queen's Speech? What does the ceremony mean?

  • 4 June 2014
The Queen
The Queen's Speech is one of the most dramatic scenes in Parliament

The Queen's Speech takes place at the State Opening of Parliament.

It's the start of a Parliamentary session which is a bit like the start of a new school year for politicians.

The Queen's Speech sets out the government's plans for the coming year.

It is given in front of members of the House of Commons and House of Lords.

Who writes the speech?

Although the speech is read out by the Queen, it's actually written by the government.

The ceremony

The modern form of the ceremony dates back to 1852.

The Queen rides in a grand state coach from Buckingham Palace to the House of Lords in Westminster.

When the Queen enters the House of Lords everyone there stands up. Everyone is wearing their smartest robes and finery.

The Queen takes her place on the throne and says "My Lords, pray be seated."

Knocking on the door

Over in the House of Commons the door is slammed in the face of the Queen's messenger known as Black Rod.

Black Rod
Black Rod refers to the person and not the stick in his hand

It might seem a bit rude but it's meant to show that House of Commons is independent.

Black Rod knocks on the door three times with his stick. He's then allowed to go in and asks the MPs to come to the House of Lords to listen to the Queen.

Queen travelling in her coach
In 2014 the Queen travelled in a new Diamond Jubilee state coach

An official known as the Lord Chancellor hands the speech to the Queen.

What happens after the speech is given?

After the State Opening is over, the Queen returns to Buckingham Palace.

In the afternoon the government's plans are debated in the House of Commons and MPs have the chance to speak on any matter of government.

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