Although it is the first State Opening of Parliament since King Charles became monarch, he stepped in for his mother, Queen Elizabeth, at the event in 2022
King Charles is performing one of his duties as monarch for the first time.
The King, 74, opened Parliament for the first time in his reign on Tuesday at the State Opening of Parliament. The event, steeped in tradition, marks the formal start of the parliamentary year which sets the government's agenda for the session.
The event began with King Charles and Queen Camilla taking part in a procession from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster escorted by the Household Cavalry. They traveled in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, the same horse-drawn carriage they used on the coronation day to travel to the crowning ceremony. The coach was commissioned to commemorate Queen Elizabeth's 60th anniversary of acceding the throne in 2012.
Princess Anne, in her role as Gold Stick in Waiting, also traveled in the procession in the State Landau.
The royal regalia — including the Imperial State Crown, the Great Sword of State and the Cap of Maintenance — traveled in their own carriage, Queen Alexandra’s State Coach.
Per tradition, King Charles made his way into the Palace of Westminster through the Sovereign's Entrance under the Victoria Tower then headed to the Robing Room, where he put on the Parliament Robe of State and the Imperial State Crown. The monarch then took part in the procession that includes heralds, Great Officers of State and members of the Royal Household.
King Charles delivered the King's Speech during the ceremony. The speech is written by the government and contains an outline of its policies and proposed legislation for the new parliamentary session.
Because Queen Elizabeth was monarch and gave the Queen's Speech, this marked the first King's Speech in over 70 years.
King Charles last wore the Imperial State Crown at his coronation on May 6. Although he was officially crowned with the St. Edward's Crown, which is only used to crown a new king or queen during the coronation ceremony, he swapped it for the Imperial State Crown toward the end of the service.
The Imperial State Crown, which dates back to the 1937 coronation of King George VI, is made of gold and set with 2,868 diamonds, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, 269 pearls, and four rubies.
The Imperial State Crown is more commonly used on ceremonial occasions. Before the coronation, it was last seen on Queen Elizabeth's coffin during her funeral in September.
Throughout her 70-year reign, Queen Elizabeth would sport the headpiece during the State Opening of Parliament annually until her later years, when she would opt for a lighter diadem or one of her signature wide-brimmed hats. Since the crown weighs over 2 lbs, it's understandable why the late monarch made the switch.
Queen Elizabeth spoke about the challenge of reading the speech at the State Opening of Parliament while trying to balance the heavy headpiece in the documentary The Coronation: "You can’t look down to read the speech, you have to take the speech up. Because if you did, your neck would break — it would fall off. So there are some disadvantages to crowns, but otherwise, they’re quite important things."
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Although this will be the first State Opening of Parliament of King Charles' reign, he first attended the State Opening of Parliament in 1970 and appeared at the event several times accompanying his mother.
He memorably stepped in for Queen Elizabeth at the event in May 2022. Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen, who died in September 2022 at age 96, would miss the event due to "episodic mobility problems." For the first time, Charles represented his mother and read the Queen's Speech.
During the 11-minute speech, which outlined the administration's objectives, the then-Prince Charles used the often repeated phrase "Her Majesty's government" instead of "My government," which is what Queen Elizabeth would have used if she had delivered the speech.
Prince William supported his father at the event, attending the State Opening of Parliament for the first time, and Camilla also took part in the ceremony at the Houses of Parliament in London.
Queen Elizabeth delegated her royal duty of opening a new session of Parliament to her son and grandson via a letter patent, which enabled them to jointly exercise that function. Both were acting as Counsellors of State, and two Counsellors of State are required to perform any of the monarch's constitutional duties.
In 2022, the Imperial State Crown was placed prominently on a table between Charles and William for the ceremony. Because he was not the monarch at the time, Charles did not wear it.
Prince William, 41, did not attend the State Opening of Parliament this year as he was in Singapore for his Earthshot Prize awards ceremony. The Prince of Wales launched the Earthshot Prize in 2020 to promote impactful approaches to the world's most pressing environmental challenges, with plans to award the prizes through 2030.
King Charles and Queen Camilla recently returned from their royal tour of Kenya. The visit marked their first trip to a Commonwealth country since King Charles’ accession.
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