State Opening of Parliament

The Queen travels from Buckingham Palace to Westminster along the Royal Route using the Irish State Coach drawn by four horses and is escorted by members of the Household Cavalry for the State Opening of Parliament.

The parade, led by a one hundred strong Guard of Honour from the Foot Guards, is accompanied by military bands.

Street Liners guard the entire route and present arms as the Royal Procession passes.

The Queen enroute to the Palace of Westminster in a hrose drawn carriage

State Opening 2017

The State Opening of Parliament takes place on the first day of a new parliamentary session or shortly after a general election.

The State Opening schedule for May 2017 has been cancelled as there will be General Election on the 8th June.

Revised Date will be published as soon as available.

The Queen's Regalia

The Queen's Regalia enroute for the Palace of Westminster

A solitary carriage, usually the Queen Alexandra's State Coach, with a special mounted escort of a Corporal of Horse and six Troopers from the Household Cavalry carries the Regalia.

Having been collected from the Jewel House at the Tower of London, they are taken to Buckingham Palace and then escorted to Westminster for use at the State Opening of Parliament.

State Opening Of Parliament Ceremony

The ceremony takes place in the House of Lords and the Commons are summoned to hear 'The Queen's Speech from the Throne', formally opening the next session of her Parliament and setting out the policies of Her Government.

As The Queen moves up the Royal Staircase to the Robing Chamber she passes between two lines of dismounted troopers of the Household Cavalry in full dress with drawn swords.

Known as a Staircase Party , this is one of the occasions the Household Cavalry exercise their privilege of being the only troops allowed to bear arms within the Royal Palaces.

State Opening of Parliament Timetable

  • Royal Procession: The Queen leaves Buckingham Palace in a carriage procession that makes its way through the streets to the Houses of Parliament.

  • Palace of Westminster: 11.15, (approximately), The Queen arrives at Sovereign's Entrance at the Houses of Parliament.

  • Queen's Speech: 11.30, (approximately), The Queen reads out the speech from the Throne in the House of Lords.

When the speech has been delivered the Royal Procession re-forms and leaves the Chamber, returning shortly afterwards in a carriage procession to Buckingham Palace.

History of the State Opening of Parliament

The current ceremony dates from the opening of the rebuilt Palace of Westminster in 1852 after the fire of 1834.

However, the tradition of the State Opening and delivery of a speech by the Sovereign can be traced back at least to the 16th century.

Carriage Procession Route

Royal route from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster

Watching the State Opening

The Queen, escorted by the Household Cavalry, travels by horse drawn coach from Buckingham Palace.

You can see the carriage procession from The Mall, the corner of St James's Park facing Horse Guards, Whitehall, Parliament Street, and Parliament Green.

At approximately 11:15 'The Queen' arrives at the Sovereigns entrance of the Palace of Westminster.

Visitor Tip

As The Queen will be sitting on the right hand side of the coach spots on the right hand side of the road will give the best views of Her Majesty.

Getting to the Palace of Westminster

By Tube
Underground station closest to Houses of Parliament:
Westminster Station - District, Circle or Jubilee lines.
Westminster station is wheelchair accessible

By Train
Mainline stations closest to the Houses of Parliament:
Victoria, Charing Cross & Waterloo
Approximately 20 minutes walk

By Bus
Buses that stop near the Houses of Parliament:
Numbers: 3, 11, 12, 24, 53, 77A, 211, 453 - low floor buses
Numbers: 88, 109, 159, 184, 511

By Car
Coming by car is not recommended. Road closures do take place.
Parking is expensive and extremely limited. 
The Palace of Westminster is In the congestion charge zone.

Getting Around London

Oyster CardThe Visitor Oyster Card is the cheapest and most flexible way to travel around London.

Valid on London Underground, buses, trams and Dockland Light Railway (DLR).

  • Cheap - a single tube journey will cost £4.30 with cash but a maximum of £2 with an Oyster card
  • Smart - You will never be charged more than a price of a London Travelcard
  • Easy - your card is reusable and the credit never expires

London Travel CardThe London Travelcard gives you access to unlimited travel on London Underground trains, buses, Docklands Light Railway, trams and overland trains within London.

  • Cheap: with one ticket you get unlimited travel, (within the zones your Travelcard covers), working out much cheaper than buying single tickets
  • Easy: one ticket for one day or one week!

Ceremonial Events Calendar

Our events calendar has details of all the State, Royal, military and ceremonial events for which London is so famous.