Royalty Vocabulary: The Queen opens parliament

Most people have an opinion on Royal families, either good or bad. If the subject comes up in conversation (or in your English exam) you are going to need some Royalty Vocabulary to be able to understand and contribute to the discussion.

Some words on this Royal subject are highlighted in bold and then explained in the text. Watch the video as well to help your understanding of the article.

Royalty Vocabulary

pomp and circumstance
splendid celebration, usually involving lots of people in uniforms, trumpets, swords, gold and royalty
elaborate display
impressive appearance or style full of splendor
the crown
Here referring to officials who are representing the Queen
horse-drawn carriage
like an old fashioned car, but with horses instead of an engine :). Obviously the queen’s carriage is very expensive (see video)
The Royal Standard
the flag used by HRH The Queen
ceremonial robes
expensive clothes only used on very special occasions
the big chair that a king or queen sits on – not like the chair that you are sitting on now! 🙂
the ruling King or Queen
the small, funny dogs that the Queen owns

Central London received all the pomp and circumstance of the State Opening of Parliament this week.

This lavish ceremony is an annual event which normally takes place in October but has now been moved to May to fit in with new sessions of parliament.

This spectacle full of grandeur first began over 500 years ago and all the pageantry is exactly the same as back then…but they’ve probably fitted a new red carpet at some point along the way.

It all begins with the searching of the cellars underneath the Palace of Westminster. This is to avoid anything happening again like The Gunpowder Plot – this was when Guy Fawkes (maybe the first ever terrorist) tried unsuccessfully to blow up King James I in 1605. Then a politician from the House of Commons is taken hostage (don’t worry, it’s only for ceremony – it’s not serious) by the Crown.

This tradition was started by King Charles I, who had a very bad relationship with Parliament and eventually had his head chopped off after the end of 2 civil wars with them.

Eventually, the Queen arrives (as you can see in the video) in her horse-drawn carriage at the Sovereign’s Entrance (which is a special doorway only used once a year by the Queen). What you can’t see in the video is that the police close down all the roads in central London for this, so it causes a traffic nightmare.

While she is there, the flag on top of parliament is changed from The Union Jack to The Royal Standard (to show that she’s in the building).

The Queen, dressed in all the ceremonial robes, slowly makes her way to the House of Lords, sits down on the throne and then says, “My Lords, pray be seated”.

At this point, Black Rod (a Lords official) is ordered to go and get all the members of the House of Commons from the other chamber in the Palace of Westminster.

He walks towards the Commons with the Doorkeeper of the House of Lords and a Police Inspector. As they begin their short journey the policeman/woman shouts, “Hats off, Strangers”.

As Black Rod approaches the Commons, the doors are slammed shut. This is symbolic to show that the Commons are independent and have the right to debate without the presence of the monarch. Black Rod then knocks on the door 3 times and they are then opened.

He enters the House of Commons and bows to the speaker and declares: “Mr Speaker, The Queen commands this honourable House to attend Her Majesty immediately in the House of Peers.”

As you can hear on the video, this is unofficially traditionally followed by a joke from a very long-serving Labour MP, Dennis Skinner, who is an anti-royalist.

Then the speaker follows Black Rod back to the House of Lords, followed by the leaders of the political parties and then everyone else…except Dennis Skinner, who stays in his seat.

The Queen then reads a speech that she did not write! It is written for her by the government of the day and it details all the plans for the forthcoming session of the parliamentary year.

The Queen isn’t smiling in the video because she probably wishes that she was at home with her corgies!

State Opening of Parliament explained

To SEE what The Queen’s Speech is all about with a full explanation of all the traditions, WATCH THE VIDEO HERE made by SGI that explains everything in English that is easy to understand.

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