A bit more ceremonial: Diamond Jubilee address

The Queen today gave her address-in-reply to both Houses of Parliament after they both composed humble addresses to her. It took place in Westminster Hall, the nigh-on millennium old medieval hall where Guy Fawkes, Charles I, and many others were put on trial. You can see the non-geolocked main proceedings (the speeches of the Lord Speaker, Speaker and of course the Queen) here.

What it doesn’t show are the processions in. First, as the representative of the upper chamber, the Lord Speaker who everyone rises for led by the Principal Doorkeeper, Deputy Serjeant-at-Arms carrying the mace and followed by the senior clerks of the House of Lords and the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod. Next comes the Speaker of the House of Commons who everyone stays standing for led by the Principal Doorkeeper down that end, the Serjeant-at-Arms carrying the mace and followed by the senior clerks of the House of Commons and the Speaker’s Chaplain. They take their respective places on the right and left respectively of the thrones, and the maces are placed on the tables in front of them and upon the Queen’s arrival are covered by cloths to show that their purpose, to represent the Sovereign’s authority, is no longer needed*.

Next, the Yeomen of the Guard (beefeaters) and the Gentlemen-at-Arms (the ones with the plumes) come in and line up to the side and behind the seats where the Queen and Prince Philip will sit. After that, the state trumpeters line up on the narrow space in front of the window at the front of Westminster Hall and when the Queen arrives from the public entrance at the rear of the hall, they announce her arrival. The Queen is led in by the Lord Chamberlain (with his ceremonial white wand of office).

The main centrepiece was the unveiling of the stained glass window as a gift from Lords and members of the House of Commons which was funded by legislators’ donations.

In a quaint way, this was a little bit ad-libbed. No one knew whether they were meant to give a standing ovation or not, and it took the Leader of the Opposition mouthing to the Prime Minister that perhaps they should stand to do this, and for one awkward moment the two of them are alone in standing up. Also, it seems they should have been singing the national anthem rather than just listening to it and somehow every one of our thousand-plus legislators and guests failed to. Oops.

Here’s the BBC’s coverage with full ceremonial, if you can access BBC iPlayer by some means or another.

*Interesting fact – if the two houses attend a joint function without the sovereign, only the Commons’ mace is covered because the Sovereign’s authority flows through the upper chamber first.

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