The armed forces provided a new style of ceremony for this year’s State Opening of Parliament which required fewer troops, allowed the principals to travel in greater comfort by car but incorporated the same standards of pomp and military splendour throughout.

In all, more than 500 soldiers and 125 military horses were on public show in a variety of ceremonial roles, with many others busy behind the scenes.

Before the pandemic, typically, all three-armed services would line the streets and the Household Division of the British Army would provide the ceremonial, escorting the Crown Regalia and Her Majesty The Queen’s carriage procession from Buckingham Palace to the House of Lords.

A great feeling of professional pride in the heart of every serviceman and woman participating. Photographer: LSgt Galvin – Army – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022

Yesterday, the procession was made up of cars instead of horse drawn carriages, so route lining was no longer needed. Instead, two Divisions of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment formed two rows of mounted guards to form a secure passageway across the vast open area of Horse Guards Parade.

Beside them on the parade square, The Band of the Scots Guards, directed by Major Tony Williams, provided musical accompaniment.

The Band of the Scots Guards played at Parliament yesterday for the Opening of State Parliament. Photographer – Sgt Donald C Todd RLC Photographer – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022

The 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards provided The Queen’s Guard at the start of the route and on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace and a Guard of Honour outside the House of Lords, made up of 96 Rank and File, accompanied by the Band of the Coldstream Guards, to provide a further layer of security. They were commanded by Major Robert Philp and 2nd Lieutenant Lochy de Klee held the State Colour.

The ceremonial wasn’t the only change this year. The Prince of Wales stood in for his mother The Queen to deliver Her speech to Parliament.

His Royal Majesty Prince Charles at the Opening of State Parliament with Camilla The Duchess of Cornwall LG, GCVO, CSM. Photographer: Sgt Donald C Todd RLC Photographer – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022

The Queen has missed only two state openings during her 70-year reign. First, when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew in 1959 and then with Prince Edward in 1963. In each case, her speech was read by the Lord Chancellor, first Viscount Kilmuir and then Lord Dilhorne.

The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired a 41 Gun Royal Salute in Hyde Park to mark the exact moment the Sovereign’s representative, The Prince of Wales, arrived at the House of Lords.

Although The armed forces provided a new style of ceremony for this year’s State Opening of Parliament. In Hyde park The Traditional Gun Salute remained unchanged. The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery rode with more than 70 horses to Hyde Park to set up their six First World War era 13 Pounder Field Guns ready to fire a Royal Salute. Photographer: LSgt Galvin – Army
UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022

At the House of Lords, State Trumpeters from The Band of the Household Cavalry husband and wife team, Trumpet Major Julian Sandford and Lance Corporal Of Horse Kate Sandford sounded his arrival.

Dismounted Troopers from the Household Cavalry in full State kit of Albert patterned, plumed helmets, mirror polished Jack boots, swords, and cuirasses, lined the staircase to the chamber.

Step Lining was provided by members of the Household Cavalry for the opening of State Parliament. Photographer: Sgt Donald C Todd RLC Photographer – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022

When His Royal Highness arrived in the chamber of the House of Lords, ‘Black Rod” summoned the Commons. The doors to the Commons chamber were shut in her face: a practice dating back to the Civil War, symbolising the Commons’ independence from the Monarchy.

Black Rod struck the door three times before it was opened.

Members of The Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London were in attendance in The houses of Parliament for opening of State Parliament. Photographer: Sgt Donald C Todd RLC Photographer – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022

Members of the House of Commons then followed Black Rod and the Commons Speaker to the Lords’ chamber.

The Queen’s Speech was delivered by The Prince of Wales and outlined the government’s policies and proposed legislation for the new parliamentary session. At the exact moment that The Prince of Wales left the House of Lords at noon, a further 41-gun salute was fired at the Tower of London by the Army’s oldest regiment, The Honourable Artillery Company, which is part of the Army Reserve.

State Opening falls in an exceptionally busy period for London’s military personnel. After many months devoted to frontline operational duties at home and abroad, this month sees many in the Guards Division switch roles to more public facing state ceremonial duties. Many of the soldiers taking part in the State Opening of Parliament have begun preparations for the Royal Windsor Horse Show which opens to the public next week in the grounds of Windsor Castle; they are all involved in The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Birthday Parade and Pageant in June.

The weeks of daily rehearsals and additional kit preparation is keeping our ceremonial forces busier than ever.

But for all those involved, it was an event to look forward to, as it is a unique opportunity to take part in what is regarded as one of the most important events in the London Ceremonial calendar. There was a great feeling of professional pride in the heart of every serviceman and woman participating. 

The Royal Sceptre as its passes by at the Opening of State Parliament. Photographer: Corporal Simon Lucas RLC – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022

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