QUEEN ELIZABETH II was banned from entering the House of Commons today as convention states the monarch is not allowed in the chamber.
At the State Opening of Parliament, the monarch delivered the Queen’s Speech in front of peers and ministers in the House of Lords. Although it was read out by the Queen, the words had been written by the Government and her aides. The speech is essentially a list of the proposed policies and laws that the Government want to get passed and gives an indication of which plans will take priority during the new parliamentary session.
It also includes a list of foreign visits the Queen is planning to make over the next 12 months as well as state visits to the UK.
The speech is rare, being the only regular occasion where the three branches of power – the monarch, the House of Lords and the House of Commons – meet together.
It is one of the most colourful events of the parliamentary year and it is steeped in tradition and customs dating back centuries – when the monarch and Parliament were on less cordial terms.
One of the traditions, which dates back to the time of King Charles I, is that Her Majesty is not allowed in the House of Commons.
Queen Elizabeth II will be banned from entering the House of Commons today (Image GETTY)
The Queen’s Speech is the only regular occasion where the three branches of power meet together (Image GETTY)
Queen takes MP hostage before delivering speech
The Queen’s speech to open Parliament is full of historic significance and sometimes odd traditions. The cellars are searched for gunpowder, the door closed and banged upon to allow MPs to enter, however one tradition involves a hostage.
The tradition dates back to when King Charles I was monarch, during the civil war.
The King and Parliament were not on the best terms, and Charles was found guilty of treason and executed in Whitehall.
From then on, the monarch will not enter the Houses of Parliament without an MP as a hostage.
In January 1642 King Charles I and his armed men came to the House of Commons to arrest five of its Members for treason, but the men had already fled.
The Speaker, William Lenthall, politely gave up his chair for the King, who demanded to know where they were.
Kneeling at the King’s feet, the Speaker replied with words that have become famous in parliamentary history.
He said: “May it please Your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see, nor tongue to speak in this place, but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here, and I humbly beg Your Majesty’s pardon that I cannot give any other answer than this to what Your Majesty is pleased to demand of me.”
This reply left no doubt as to where the Speaker’s first duty lay.
The King had no choice but to leave and the role of the Speaker as the representative of the House of Commons was firmly established.
Since that day no monarch has entered the House of Commons Chamber, which is why the State Opening of Parliament takes place in the House of Lords.
The State Opening is one of the most colourful events of the parliamentary year (Image GETTY)
The Black Rod (Image GETTY)
During the State Opening, Parliament’s independence is reflected by the slamming of door to the chamber in Black Rod’s face, who is the monarch’s representative in Westminster.
The Gentlemen Usher then knocks three times on the door with the rod, the door is opened and all MPs follow him or her back to the Lords to hear the Queen’s Speech.
The Gentlemen Usher knocks three times on the door with the rod (Image GETTY)
The earliest known reference to the role of Black Rod as the Usher to the Order of the Garter is in letters patent – a written order from a monarch granting an office, right or title to an individual – from 1361.
There are thought to have been 60 holders of the position since then.
The title “Black Rod” comes from the staff carried by the holder – it is made of ebony and is topped with a golden lion.
The position of Black Rod also exists in Commonwealth countries Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Source: EXPRESS CO UK