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State Openings of Parliament: Reduced Ceremonial

Published Monday, January 6, 2020

With reference to state openings in 2019, 2017, March 1974 and 1939, this briefing discusses the differences between a traditional state opening and one with reduced ceremonial elements.

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Following the 2019 general election, the State Opening of Parliament on 19 December was held with “reduced ceremonial elements”.

The last time the state opening had featured reduced ceremonial elements was on 21 June 2017. It differed from normal state openings in a number of ways, including:

•       No horse-drawn carriages were used. Instead, the Queen and the Regalia of State were transported by cars.
•       The Queen wore a day dress and a hat, rather than the ceremonial robes.
•       There was a reduced royal procession.

The 2017 state opening marked the opening of the 2017–19 session and followed the general election held on 8 June 2017. It featured reduced ceremonial elements due to its timing. Prior to this, Erskine May states that the ceremonies between 1917 and 1919 and 1939 and 1948 also featured “less than the customary ceremony”, as did the state opening in March 1974.

This briefing outlines the traditional state opening ceremony, followed by a description of the state openings of 2017, March 1974 and 1939, setting out how the ceremonies in these years differed from the norm.

Lords Library notes LLN-2019-0160

Author: Russell Taylor

Topics: House of Commons, House of Lords, Parliament

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