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State & Ceremonial

It has now been two years since the last State Opening of Parliament

Friday marks two years since the United Kingdom last hosted The Queen for a State Opening of Parliament.

Her Majesty formally opens Parliament at the beginning of each parliamentary session. As the legislature has not been prorogued for two years, Parliament is still officially in the 2017 session following the General Election which saw Theresa May lose her majority.

Parliamentary sessions usually last for one year, with The Queen taking her seat in the House of Lords in May or June to deliver her speech.

However, with the current political uncertainty, it appears there will now be no State Opening in 2019, meaning the 2017 session continues for yet another year.

This raises serious constitutional questions as The Queen only appoints a Prime Minister on the basis that they can control a majority of MPs in the House of Commons.

If The Queen’s Speech was delivered in today’s political climate, it is highly unlikely to pass the legislative stages which would result in a General Election unless Jeremy Corbyn could gain command of the Commons.

There is no law which dictates how often State Openings have to take place, and they do not have to occur every year. In 2011, the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition decided to have a two-year Parliamentary session. However, there has never been a three-year Parliamentary session.

A State Opening usually occurs once a year after the prorogation of parliament.

Prorogation marks the end of a parliamentary session. It is the formal name given to the period between the end of a session of Parliament and the State Opening of Parliament that begins the next session.

Ultimately though, deciding when to prorogue Parliament is a prerogative power meaning it is at the Prime Minister’s discretion as to when this occurs.

With Theresa May due to step down next month and the race to find her successor being well underway, it is unlikely Parliament will prorogue anytime soon meaning we could be waiting a while yet for Black Rod’s traditional knocking on the door.