The State Opening of Parliament marks the formal start of the parliamentary year. It took place on May 8 in the House of Lords where the Sovereign read the Speech from the throne. This traddition began in 1536.
Although the Queen reads the speech, it is written by the government. It contains an outline of its policies and proposed legislation for the new parliamentary session.
Queen Elizabeth began attending the State Opening with her father in 1943, before she became Queen. During this time there has been two occasions where the Queen did not attend, the first when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew, and the second when pregnant with Prince Edward.
Seated on a throne, and alongside her husband the Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth was also accompanied by her son, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and his wife, Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall who attended the State Opening of Parliament this year for the first time.
On the eve of State Opening, the Yeomen of the Guard search the cellars of the Palace of Westminster to avoid a repetition of the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605 (read Guy Fawkes'Day) .
When George I opened Parliament he did not read the Speech because he barely spoke English.
Queen Victoria rarely attended the State Opening after the death of her husband, Prince Albert, in 1851.