Shortly after the UK holds a general election, a special ceremony, called the "State Opening of Parliament", marks the formal start of the parliamentary year. Tracing its history back to the 16th century, the ceremony begins with the Queen's procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster, escorted by the Household Cavalry. We were fortunate enough to witness this procession. There is a lot of pomp and ceremony associated with this whole event. This is the only "regular" occasion when the sovereign, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons meet. The formal part begins with the"Queen's Speech" during which she outlines the government's agenda. While it is the Queen who makes this speech, it is actually written by the government. By tradition, the Queen presents her speech in the House of Lords Chamber, as she is not allowed in the House of Commons chamber. After the Queen arrives in the House of Lords, a representative is sent to the House of Commons to summon them. Again, tradition dictates that initially the House of Commons ignores the summons, shutting the door to their chamber in the face of the representative. Knocking three times loudly on the door then persuades the members of the House of Commons to show up for the speech.Once the speech has been given, the Queen returns to Buckingham Palace, and the members of parliament begin to debate, for weeks on end, the items presented.