Wednesday marked the official state opening of the British Parliament, replete with pomp, circumstance and very silly wigs.
According to the Parliament’s official website, the queen opens the main ceremonial event by proceeding from Buckingham Palace to Westminster in a royal carriage.
Queen Elizabeth II gave her traditional speech that opens each new parliamentary session. It is important to note that the Queen’s Speech is written by the government and expresses its views and plans, not her own.
The State Opening ceremony dates back to the 16th century, as do most of these judges’ wigs.
The official website of the royal family notes that the monarch has only missed two openings of Parliament during her 61-year reign: In 1959 when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew and in 1963 when she was pregnant with Prince Edward.
This year, for the first time in 17 years, Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, attended the ceremony, accompanied by his second wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Alas, our fair lady the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, did not attend (she is pregnant, as well.)
According to the official royal website, a special detachment of the Queen’s Body Guard, along with local police, searches the cellars of Parliament prior to the ceremony. This tradition dates back to the infamous Nov. 5, 1605, Gunpowder Plot, when Guy Fawkes tried unsuccessfully to blow up Parliament and King James I.
See the Queen’s Speech from this year below.