The Queen’s speech to open Parliament is full of historic significance and sometimes odd traditions. The cellars are searched for gunpowder, the door closed and banged upon to allow MPs to enter, however, one tradition involves a hostage.
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The tradition dates back to when King Charles I was the monarch, during the civil war.
The King and Parliament were not on the best terms, and Charles was found guilty of treason and executed in Whitehall.
From then on, the monarch will not enter the Houses of Parliament without an MP as a hostage.
Parliament's website explains: "Some of the most well-known elements of the State Opening take place out of the public eye.
"Before the Sovereign’s arrival at parliament, the Yeomen of the Guard, the royal bodyguards, ceremonially search the cellars of the Palace of Westminster for explosives.
"This commemorates Guy Fawkes’s ‘gunpowder plot’ of 1605 – a failed attempt by English Catholics to blow up the Protestant King James I and Parliament.
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Queen hostage: What would happen if the Queen was not returned to the palace? (Image: GETTY)
Queen hostage: The Queen travelled by carriage to the Houses of Parliament (Image: GETTY)
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"Another reminder of the violence and intrigue historically surrounding relationships between the Commons and the Crown is the fact that a Member of the Commons is ceremonially held hostage in Buckingham Palace while the Sovereign attends the Palace, to ensure her safe return.
"This tradition stems from the time of Charles I, who had a contentious relationship with Parliament and was eventually beheaded in 1649 at the conclusion of a civil war between the monarchy and Parliament.
"The hostage is usually the Vice-Chamberlain of the Household – that is, an MP whose office makes him or her officially a member of the Royal Household and, simultaneously, a junior Whip for the Government."
Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick was once asked to be the Queen's hostage.He told the BBC: “If the monarch doesn’t go back, they have one of ours.”
He added: “If anything happens to the monarch, the same fate will befall on one of our senior colleagues.”
Queen hostage: Parliament's cellars are searched each time the Queen attends (Image: GETTY)
When he was a hostage, Mr Fitzpatrick said he was free to do as he pleased at the palace, adding: “They didn’t lock me up, but they made it quite clear that I wasn’t going anywhere.”
When he expressed his anxiety to the head of the Armed Forces, he was told: “If anything had happened to Her Majesty, we would have made it quick. We would have just shot you.”
For the Queen entering Parliament today, Stuart Andrew MP was taken to Buckingham Palace this morning ahead of Her Majesty’s departure from Buckingham Palace.
Now the Queen has returned to Buckingham Palace, Mr Andrew will be free to leave and return to the Commons.
Following the speech, Speaker John Bercow leads MPs back into the Commons chamber, and the sitting is suspended until 2.30pm.
At this time, debating on the Queen's Speech will take place.
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Bizarre traditions when the Queen visits Parliament
Traditions surrounding State Opening and the delivery of a speech by the monarch can be traced back as far as the 16th century.
The current ceremony dates from the opening of the rebuilt Palace of Westminster in 1852 after the fire of 1834.
But while the event is steeped in history, and is used to launch the Government's agenda for the year ahead, there are a number of bizarre traditions the Speech still upholds to this day (as well as taking a hostage).
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Queen hostage: As she gave her speech, an MP was being held in Buckingham Palace (Image: GETTY)
- Leave EU on October 31 with free trade and friendly co-operation with bloc
- Immigration bill ending EU free movement
- EU citizens already here having right to remain
- Responsible fiscal strategy with economic growth
- New laws to tackle irresponsible management of private pension schemes
- Powers to prevent violent crime and bring in new, harsher sentencing laws
- Ambitious space strategy
- Legally binding environmental improvement targets
- Spend 2% of national income on defence
The House of Lords official is Black Rod, and they summon the House of Commons to the Lords.
As this takes place, the doors to the Commons chamber will be shut in her face to symbolise the Commons’ independence from the monarchy.
Black Rod strikes the door three times before it is opened, and then members of the House of Commons follow her and the Commons Speaker into the chamber to hear the speech.
When Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plotters attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605, it was the State Opening of Parliament they aimed for.
Now, to avoid any chance of another plot to blow up almost every member of British authority, the cellars of the Houses are searched each year.
This is always carried out by the Yeomen of the Guard – who is the Queen’s traditional bodyguard.
This is only a ceremonial search, however – as a full risk assessment must be carried out.
Real-life anti-terror measures take place separately to this to ensure the Queen's safety.
Queen's Speech: Black Rod is a ceremonial role (Image: SKY)
Robe, Crown and special entrance
The Queen travels to the Houses of Parliament in a horse-drawn carriage, escorted by her Household Cavalry.
She enters Parliament using the Sovereign’s Entrance, before heading to a special Robing Room.
Then she puts on the Robe of State, which is made of red velvet with an 18ft long train.
Usually, the Queen wears the Imperial State Crown, which the current version dates back to 1937.
However, the State Crown was carried on a cushion, and the Queen instead wore King George IV’s Diadem for the speech.