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State & CeremonialThe Queen

The Queen takes Conservative MP hostage at Buckingham Palace

The Queen has taken a Conservative Member of Parliament hostage at Buckingham Palace whilst she delivers her speech at the Palace of Westminster.

Chris Heaton-Harris, MP for Daventry, is being ‘held captive’ at the Palace and will be released once the Monarch has been safely returned from the State Opening of Parliament.

Mr Heaton-Harris arrived at Buckingham Palace before The Queen departed by car to the Palace of Westminster. He will remain here until the 91-year-old returns.

The tradition of keeping an MP hostage is a centuries-old tradition that originated when the Monarch and Parliament were on less friendly terms.

The hostage is usually a government whip, and this year the chosen MP is also Vice-Chaimberlain of the Household.

Taking an MP hostage is just one of the many bizarre traditions which takes place each year at the State Opening of Parliament.

Another tradition which takes place each year without fail is searching the Palace of Westminster for gunpowder the evening before the Sovereign is due to visit Parliament.

This dates back to when a group of men tried to assassinate King James I by blowing up the House of Lords during the State Opening.

Also, in a show of Commons supremacy over the Monarch, The Queen is forbidden to enter the House of Commons. As such, she sends Black Rod to the chamber who summons MPs to the bar of the House of Lords where they will hear her speech.

However, before Black Rod enters the chamber, the Commons door is slammed into his face to demonstrate the power of MPs.

Despite all of the pomp and traditions, this year’s State Opening is a heavily dressed down affair. Due to last minute changes to the schedule, it is not possible to arrange carriages and the army to ceremonially mark the arrival of the Monarch. Instead she will just arrive by car.

Also, The Queen will not be wearing her robes or Crown this year. But with temperatures expected to reach 34°C, this might come as a welcome relief to the 91-year-old Queen.


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