Parliamentary occasions

Key business and ceremonial events - both regular and occasional - punctuate the parliamentary year.

Addresses to Members of Parliament

A State visit is often marked by a speech given to Members of both Houses of Parliament by the visiting head of State or Government.

Calendar of sittings

Each Parliament lasts for up to five years and is divided into annual sessions. Parliament sits for regular periods during a session.

State Opening of Parliament

The State Opening marks the beginning of the parliamentary session. The monarch formally opens Parliament, delivering an outline of the Government's proposed policies and legislation for the coming session in the Queen's Speech.


The end of a parliamentary session is known as prorogation: the period between the end of a session of Parliament and the State Opening of Parliament that begins the next session.

Recall of Parliament

During times when Parliament is not sitting, the Government can ask for the House of Commons to be recalled. The House of Lords is usually recalled at the same time.

Lord Chancellor's breakfast

Dating back to the Middle Ages, a service at Westminster Abbey, and a reception at the Houses of Parliament, heralds the start of the legal year


The formal occasion in which a coffin is placed on view to allow the public to pay their respects to the deceased, usually takes place at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall.

Rules and traditions of Parliament

The origins of Parliament go back to the 13th century, so there are many rules, customs and traditions that help explain its workings.