State Opening: timetable of events

State Opening, one of the most colourful events of the parliamentary year, takes place at the Palace of Westminster.

The monarch formally opens Parliament and delivers the Queen's Speech - written by the Government - which sets out Parliament's working agenda for the coming year.

Find out the key events, what goes on after the ceremony, and more.

Timetable of events

  • Royal Procession - the Queen leaves Buckingham Palace in a carriage procession that makes its way through the streets to the Houses of Parliament.
    View the Queen's journey to Parliament (PDF PDF 521 KB)

  • Palace of Westminster: 11.15am (approx.) - the Queen arrives at Sovereign's Entrance at the Houses of Parliament.

  • Queen's Speech: 11.30am (approx.) - the Queen reads out the speech from the throne in the House of Lords.

  • Motion for Humble Address: 2.30pm (Commons) and 3.30pm (Lords) - the Queen is thanked for the speech and the Commons and Lords begin debating the Government's legislative programme.

State Opening at a glance

View the key events of State Opening in our diagram:

Sequence of events (PDF PDF 194 KB)

Who attends the State Opening ceremony in the Lords Chamber?

Members of the Lords are present as well as:

  • ambassadors and high commissioners - often wearing their national dress

  • judges from the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court

  • MPs from the House of Commons.

MPs attend at the entrance to the Lords Chamber - often referred to as the 'bar' because of the rail across the entrance to the Chamber. Members of the Royal Procession and others gather around the throne.

Can I attend the State Opening ceremony?

Members of the public cannot attend the State Opening itself.

Roads around the Houses of Parliament are subject to closure before the ceremony.

However, members of the public can gain access to Parliament in the afternoon - when normal business resumes.

What happens after the ceremony?

In the afternoon, Parliament goes back to work - the new session begins.

Each House meets separately to begin debating the Government's programme of legislation and policies outlined in the Queen's Speech.

Further information

Find out about the debates taking place and other parliamentary business.

Parliamentary calendar

Forthcoming business of the House of Lords
Forthcoming business of the House of Commons

Related information

Watch the Lord Speaker outline the purpose and significance of State Opening on Parliament's YouTube channel:

Follow State Opening as it happens on Twitter:

Parliament broadcasts live coverage of the Queen's Speech on 9 May 2012 from 11.20am:

Find out answers to more of your State Opening queries: