Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Saw Queen Elizabeth II Twice

Last Wednesday, 18 November, was the State Opening of the British Parliament. It takes place once a year and there's a royal procession where the Queen travels from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster to deliver a speech written by the government. The speech, called the Speech from the Throne, outlines the agenda of the Parliament for the upcoming session.

There are tons of pomp and circumstance and ceremonial traditions involved in this event. Before the Queen arrives at the Palace of Westminster, the Yeomen of the Guard search the grounds of the Palace for any bomb. This tradition originated all the way back to 1605 when Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Palace in the Gunpowder Plot (...Remember, Remember, the 5th of November.). To futhur ensure the Queen's safety, a member of the House of Commons is held hostage at Buckingham Palace.

Before the Queen's carriage, the Imperial State Crown travels to Westminster in its own carriage. As the Queen leaves Buckingham Palace, they play God Save the Queen. When the Queen arrives at Westminster, (and she arrives at her own entrance, the Sovereign's Entrance) she changes into the a special ceremonial robe to address the House of Lords and Commons.

The ceremony only takes around 30-45 minutes. So I waited for the Queen at Buckingham Palace when she left, then I walked to the Palace of Westminster to see her again as she left to go home. So I got to see her twice! Unknown to myself, I also got to see the Imperial State Crown and Princess Anne.

The Imperial State Crown traveling to Palace of Westminster.

Dozens of guards on horse arriving at Buckingham Palace to protect the Queen during her procession to Westminster.

The Queen's carriage arrives to pick her up.

Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas Queen...!!!

It's the Queen again!!! I promise she's in there although Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is on the side closer to me.

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