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Far Left: The Queen at the State Opening of Parliament


Left: Grenadier Guards at the State Opening of Parliament


Right: The Queen visits her new Diamond Jubilee window in Westminster Hall donated by both Houses of Parliament PHOTOS ROGER HARRIS ©HOUSE OF LORDS


the Pages of Honour in their scarlet frock coats whose principal duty is to carry the Queen’s velvet train when in procession to and from the House of Lords Chamber. From the time of King Charles I, an MP is held at Buckingham Palace as hostage for her safe return. The whole ceremony is a celebration of continuity and tra- dition on a grand scale. The Queen is also preceded by


the ‘Crown Procession’ in two car- riages – one for the Imperial State Crown itself and another for the two royal maces which that morn- ing have been taken from the Tower of London to Buckingham Palace and then placed in the coaches for their journey to the Palace of Westminster. The crown’s romantic associations are maintained by its decoration with the sapphire from Edward the Confessor’s ring and the Black Prince’s Ruby – both sold off by Oliver Cromwell at the time of the execution of King Charles I and the Civil War but returned to the Crown Jewels when they were remade for the Coronation of King Charles II in 1661. Rubies, emeralds, sapphires, pearls and 2,868 diamonds cover


the silver frame of the crown and the Crown Jeweller is on hand to check that it is in perfect order. The Lord Great Chamberlain carries the crown to the Royal Gallery where it may be seen in all its splendour placed next to two other ancient symbols of monarchy, the velvet and ermine Cap of Maintenance and the Sword of State. The Queen and the Duke of


Edinburgh travel in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach. Recently made in Australia it contains timber from Henry VIII’s flagship the Mary Rose, the Mayflower and Admiral Nel- son’s HMS Victory. The carriage is attended by the Sovereign’s Escort from Buckingham Palace; the route passes along the Mall, across Horse Guards Parade and along Whitehall past the clock tower – usually called ‘Big Ben’ – but named the ‘Elizabeth Tower’ in Her Majesties’ honour since the Diamond Jubilee in 2012. A Guard of Honour of 104 members of the Household Cavalry, and the Band of the Regiment and the Corps of Drums of the Battalion await the Queen’s carriage in Old Palace Yard. On her arrival at the Sovereign’s


Entrance, a Royal Salute of 41 Guns is fired in Green Park, the band plays the National Anthem and the Royal Standard replaces the Union Flag on the Victoria Tower. The Queen passes beneath the high arch of this mighty tower which was designed to contain all the Acts of Parliament which the monarch signs, thereby providing a symbolic moment in the colourful annual proceedings. The Queen and the Duke are met


by the Earl Marshall and Lord Great Chamberlain, and walk up the Royal Staircase lined with the Household Cavalry where they are greeted on the steps by the Heralds from the College of Arms and the Lord Presi- dent of the Council. They then arrive in the Norman Porch, the first of the suite of royal rooms, so called because it was destined to hold stat- ues of the Norman kings before time ran out and the funds for its adorn- ment were cut. The Queen and the Duke then enter the Queen’s Rob- ing Room at the southernmost end of the building; frescos and relief panels of the Legend of King Arthur were incorporated in the decoration here to mark the mytho-


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