News | Armed Forces At The State Opening Of Parliament

Guards drawn up outside the Palace of Westminster
Guards drawn up outside the Palace of Westminster
Published: 02 May 2013

The State Opening of Parliament is one of the most colourful events in the London Ceremonial calendar when all elements of the Household Division, and other elements of the Armed Forces, line the streets and escort Her Majesty The Queen's procession from Buckingham Palace to the House of Lords.

The armed forces will be playing a major role in the pomp and ceremony that is part of the State Opening of Parliament, taking place on Wednesday 8 May 2013. In all, 1290 members of the Armed Forces will be on show in a variety of ceremonial roles.

The State Opening marks the formal start of the next parliamentary session. The primary purpose of this colourful tradition is to set out the government's legislative agenda to both Houses of Parliament in the Queen's Speech.

Military units taking part are four Half Companies of the Royal Navy, The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, Nijmegan Company Grenadier Guards, Number 7 Company Coldstream Guards, F Company Scots Guards, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, four Half Companies of the Royal Air Force, The Royal Artillery Band, Band of the Grenadier Guards, Band of the Coldstream Guards, Band of the Scots Guards, Band of the Irish Guards, Band of the Welsh Guards and the Honourable Artillery Company.

Other than the normal State Ceremonial activities many of the units taking part in the event will have been involved providing support to the London 2012 games, the Diamond Jubilee, Baroness Thatcher's funeral and various deployments to Afghanistan under Op Herrick.

For many involved, this will be a unique event as it will often be the first or last chance to take part in what is one of the most colourful events in the London Ceremonial calendar. As such there is often a great feeling of pride.

The Processional Route will be by way of The Mall, Horse Guards Road, Horse Guards, Whitehall and Parliament Street.

The Crown Procession will leave Buckingham Palace at 1037 hours, arriving at the House of Lords at 1052 hours. It will be followed by a Carriage Procession carrying The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall at 1042 hours, arriving at 1057.

The Queen's Procession will leave Buckingham Palace at 1100, arriving at the House of Lords at 1115 hours and returning to Buckingham Palace by 1215 hours.

Grenadier Guards, Coldstream Guards and Welsh Guards will line the route of the procession, while Her Majesty The Queen will be escorted by The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, with their mounted Troopers and Cavalry horses.

The General Officer Commanding London District, Major General George Norton CBE, will command the military part of the parade, involving all three services.

In honour of the State Opening, as the Queen reaches the House of Lords, a 41-gun salute will be fired by The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, supported by the Band of the Royal Artillery, in Green Park. A further 41-gun salute will be fired at 1200 hours at the Tower of London by the Army's oldest regiment, The Honourable Artillery Company, which is part of the Territorial Army.

After The Queen's Procession has returned to Buckingham Palace, The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery will march past Her Majesty, followed by the Sovereign's Escort and Regalia Escort, formed by the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment and the Guard of Honour from the Grenadier Guards and the Welsh Guards.

Service personnel from all three services will be commanded on the day by the General Officer Commanding London District, Major General George Norton CBE

Read more about the State Opening of Parliament and where to see the ceremony.

Guards of Honour

Queen's Gardens

1st Battalion Grenadier Guards will provide a Guard of Honour up to 100 soldiers, commanded by Major Piers Ashfield DSO, with the Royal Standard of the Regiment, in Queen's Gardens. They will be accompanied by the Band of the Regiment and the Corps of Drums of the Battalion.

House of Lords

1st Battalion Welsh Guards will provide a Guard of Honour of up to 100 soldiers, commanded by Major Henry Llewelyn-Usher, with The Queen's Colour at the House of Lords. They will be accompanied by the Band of the Regiment and the Corps of Drums of the Battalion.

Escorts

Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment

The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment will escort Her Majesty The Queen, HRH the Prince of Wales and The Crown, in three separate processions, from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament via the Mall, Horse Guards and Whitehall.

A Sovereign's Escort of four Divisions (116 men and horses) will be provided for The Queen, a traveling escort (16 men and horses) will be provided for the Prince of Wales and an additional Regalia Escort (7 men and horses) for the Crown Jewels.

At Horse Guards, The Queen's Life Guard will turn out the Guard as Her Majesty is escorted through the Court Yard.
Once Her Majesty has delivered the address to Parliament, the Regiment will escort the carriage back to Buckingham Palace before returning to Barracks in Hyde Park. Major Nick Stewart is The Field Officer.

Gun Salutes

The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery

The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, commanded by Major Mark Edward RHA, will fire a 41 gun Salute from Green Park as Her Majesty The Queen enters Parliament.

They will then move through Canada Gate and form up outside Buckingham Palace on Spur Road. As Her Majesty passes by in the State Procession, the Troop will give a Royal Salute (a flourish of swords, but without firing the Guns).

The Troop will then move to the inner quadrangle of Buckingham Palace, where it will lead the March Past in front of Her Majesty.

There will be 6 Gun teams with 60 horses and 42 soldiers; 5 Officers and 4 Trumpeters / Horse Holders, as well as the Regimental Sergeant Major, Equitation Instructor Sergeant Major, Master Saddler, Master Farrier and Master Tailor. In total: 74 horses and 56 soldiers.

The Honourable Artillery Company

The City of London's Territorial Army Regiment and the oldest Regiment in the British Army, the Honourable Artillery Company will fire a 41 Gun Salute from Gun Wharf at HM Palace and Fortress, The Tower of London, at 12 noon on the occasion of the State Opening of Parliament.

The soldiers will be drawn from One Squadron Honourable Artillery Company, the Battery Commander will be Major Michael Joy, and the Battery Captain, Captain Richard Jakeman HAC. The Inspecting Officer will be The Master Gunner Tower of London, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Murphy.

The Honourable Artillery Company will leave their barracks at Armoury House and drive through the City of London to the Tower of London.

The Guns are the regiment's Colours and so are afforded the appropriate respect throughout the route.

On arrival at The Tower, the guns are brought into action on Gun Wharf adjacent to the River Thames.

At 12 noon, 41 rounds will be fired at 10 second intervals.

Whilst a Royal Salute normally comprises of 21 rounds, the number is increased by 20 rounds when fired from a Royal Saluting Base in this case the Tower of London.

Musical Accompaniment

The Royal Artillery Band.

The Band will provide musical support to The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery at the Gun Position at Green Park.

Band of the Grenadier Guards

The Band will provide musical support at Marlborough Road.

Band of the Coldstream Guards

The Band will play at The House of Lords.

Band of the Scots Guards

The Band will provide musical support at The Duke of York Steps.

Band of the Irish Guards

The Band will provide musical support at Derby Gate.

Pictures from the State Opening will be published on Facebook as soon as available.