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State Opening of Parliament
Thursday 5th June 2014 9:07 pm

I haven't got anything done this evening because I've been watching the State Opening of Parliament. I've never seen it before and only watched it because I did a tour of Parliament in December and wanted to see the places I'd been. It turned out to be so interesting that I watched it all until the Queen started her speech.

What's interesting is the historical side of it. Before the Queen arrives there's a group of guards who search the cellars (and get some port for doing it!), just in case anyone else had decided to copy Guy Fawkes and blow up Parliament.

The Queen sits in the House of Lords and delivers the speech from there because she's not allowed in the House of Commons. She sends Black Rod (her representative) down to the Commons, who slam the door in his face. They really did slam it too, although not quite actually in his face! Then he knocks three times and gets let in and invites the Commons into the House of Lords to hear the speech. At which point Dennis Skinner makes a joke. This year's was "Coalition's Last Stand" - this being the last Queen's Speech before the general election next May. Then they all troop off to the Lords, where most of them don't get it because there's really not a lot of space.

This all relates to Charles I, who came into the Commons to arrest some MPs. The civil war came after that - generally speaking he wanted to rule and ignore Parliament, Parliament thought they should rule. They ended up trying him for treason and cut his head off and no monarch has been in the Commons since.

It was interesting to see Cameron and Miliband chatting as they headed to the Lords. As the men in the studio said, they are on camera and have to look human and friendly, but also that they have a lot in common and aren't always enemies. It reminded me of Yes, Minister, where Hacker explained that the opposition were the opposition in exile, the civil service were the opposition in residence. They said that talking about their children was always a good topic, plus their upcoming D-Day trip.

I'm not sure I feel the need to see it again, because it's largely the same every year, but I am glad to have seen it.

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