State Opening is the major ceremonial event of the parliamentary calendar and the Estate is significantly reconfigured for hosting it. Its traditions date back as far as the sixteenth century and it is the only regular occasion when the three constituent parts of Parliament meet: the Sovereign, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The event is broadcast to the nation by the main UK TV channels and also to many international networks with high viewing figures across the globe.
The security costs to the House administration in preparing for and conducting the State Opening of Parliament in each of the last five years are set out in the table below. These figures are additional to the fixed cost base for police officers and staff, tasked daily with protecting the Parliamentary Estate. They are indicative, due to the complex nature of police officer and staff allocation for a large scale operation.
Estimates of other costs are set out in the table below. These include supply and fit of additional structures, preparations of the interior, additional lighting, move and reinstallation of the vehicle security barrier, construction costs of reconfiguring the Lords chamber and Royal Gallery, building media facilities within the Palace of Westminster, storage of equipment throughout the year, and other domestic and administrative costs.
The costs for 2016 are based on estimates only at this stage, because not all invoices have yet been received from relevant suppliers. Some costs are annual rather than tied to a particular State Opening of Parliament; these annual costs have been attributed to the next State Opening.
Since 2015, a proportion of overtime has been captured specifically in relation to the State Opening of Parliament. This accounts for the apparent steep increase in overall ‘other’ costs for that and the subsequent year, but it should be noted that these costs always existed, but were assigned to separate budgets.
The House of Lords pays a proportion of these costs, many of which are costs from services shared with the House of Commons. This information does not represent the full cost of State Opening, as costs will also have been incurred by other bodies, which may include Westminster City Council, the Metropolitan Police and the Royal Household.