L ondon: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has joined the dignitaries at the State Opening of Parliament, marking the commencement of the new session of the British House of Commons.
The State Opening was done by Queen Elizabeth, who is the Head of State of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, and delivered a prepared speech, outlining her Government’s agenda for the coming year.
The event, the most colourful of the British Parliamentary year has great significance as it brings together the three elements of the legislature – the House of Commons, the House of Lords and The Queen – and represents the Crown in Parliament. As Head of State, it is the duty of the Queen formally to open each new session of Parliament.
Queen Elizabeth in her address announced a detailed policy of the British government mainly focusing on economic growth, justice and constitutional reform. She said her ministers’ first priority would be to reduce the deficit and restore economic stability.
The Queen also touched upon the international affairs and said her government would work to support a secure and stable Afghanistan and to reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation, including in Iran.
The Queen has opened Parliament on 58 occasions and has only missed two during her reign.
As a tradition a detachment of The Queen’s Body Guard of the Yeomen searched the cellars of the Houses of Parliament, in addition to the search by the police, to ensure there is no threat to the Queen.
Another interesting tradition is the ‘hostage’ MP, a Government whip who is held at Buckingham Palace to guarantee the safe return of the monarch.
A history of the British parliament mentions that the custom dates back to centuries when the monarch and Parliament were on less cordial terms.
The Queen travelled from the Buckingham Palace in a State coach to the Palace of Westminster.
The representatives of the House of Commons are also summoned by The Queen’s Messenger.