The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will attend the State Opening of Parliament on Wednesday, May 8. In a somewhat surprise announcement from the Buckingham Palace, it emerged they will be accompanied by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. While Prince Charles has attended the ceremony several times before, this will be Camilla’s first-ever State Opening of Parliament.
Camilla’s invitation can perhaps be seen as a sign of growing confidence in her role, as well as a gradual transition of responsibilities from Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh, to the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. Just a year ago, Queen Elizabeth appointed her daughter-in-law Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order – one of the highest honours that remain the personal gift of the Monarch.
During her reign, The Queen has been accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh at every State Opening except in 1956, 1964, 1968, 1969, 1973, 1982, 1991, 1994 and 1996. The only year in which the Queen walked alone was 1964, with the exception of March 1974 when there was a scaled-down ceremony.
The Prince of Wales, the Princess of Wales (the late Diana, Princess of Wales), Princess Margaret, Princess Anne, and Captain Mark Phillips (Princess Anne’s first husband) have all taken part in the Procession during Queen Elizabeth’s reign. Several other members of the Royal Family (including the Gloucesters and the Kents) used to attend the State Opening and take their seats in the Chamber prior to The Queen’s arrival; they did not take part in the Procession.
The State Opening of Parliament is a grand occasion showcasing the best of British pomp and ceremonies. Traditions centuries old are seamlessly integrated into modern practices, creating a unique and spectacular blend. I’ll make a post on the Opening of Parliament and all the customs connected to it on May 7, the day before this year’s ceremony.