What is the Queen's Speech and
what does it mean?


At the start of every parliamentary session, the Queen attends parliament and reads out a script containing the government's plans for the year ahead.

This year the ceremony, called the State Opening of Parliament, and broadcast live on television, takes place on Wednesday 13 November.

The Queen's Speech usually takes place in November as a new session of Parliament begins, and always after a general election.

It dates back to times when the King or Queen chose the laws to be debated in Parliament. Although the Queen still makes the speech today, it is the government that draws up the content.

Before the State Opening, the cellars of the Palace of Westminster are searched by the Yeomen of the Guard - a precaution dating back to the Gunpowder Plot of November 1605.

On the day, the Queen arrives from Buckingham Palace and enters the Palace of Westminster by the Sovereign's Entrance. From there she goes into the Royal Robing Room where she puts on her Crown and ceremonial robes. She then goes through the Royal Gallery to take her place on the throne in the House of Lords.

All of the Lords wear their Parliamentary robes. Black Rod, in his distinctive black costume, is sent to the House of Commons to summon MPs.

When Black Rod arrives, the door is always slammed in his face and he has to knock three times on the door before he is allowed in. This tradition symbolises the right of the Commons to debate without interference. The Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition then lead all the MPs into the House of Lords. The Lord Chancellor hands the speech to the Queen who reads it out.

When the speech ends, the MPs return to their Chamber to debate its contents.

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