The Queen presided over a majestic occasion as she outlined the government's legislative policies in Parliament.
Wearing the Imperial State Crown – a spectacular piece made of over 3,000 precious stones – the monarch read a speech drafted by coalition leaders David Cameron and Nick Clegg.
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Embellished robes completed her royal regalia as she addressed MPs and peers.
Tradition dictates that the ceremonial emblems – also including the Cap of Maintenance and the Sword of State – arrive precede the monarch in their own coach, escorted by members of the royal household.
The sovereign herself travels in the Irish State Coach.
It was the 57th time Her Majesty had opened the parliamentary session during her reign – the only exceptions being during her pregnancies with Princes Andrew and Edward.
The State Opening is replete with ancient rituals, including a search of the cellars in the Palace of Westminster – a throwback to the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 when there was an attempt to blow up Parliament.
Before the ceremony began, the deputy Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod – known as Black Rod for short – summoned members of the House of Commons.
Wednesday's statement emphasised family-friendly policies, and measures protecting the UK economy from the Eurozone crisis.
The speech is the biggest event in the parliamentary calendar and traditionally outlines the government’s plans for the coming year.
Although the reading usually takes place in the autumn, it was pushed back on this occasion to allow more time for the development of controversial bills.
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