Page last updated at 13:07 GMT, Tuesday, 25 May 2010 14:07 UK

State Opening of Parliament

MPs returned for the State Opening of Parliament on 25 May 2010 - the most colourful, and important, parliamentary event of the year.

To mark the official opening of Parliament, the Queen read a speech in the House of Lords setting out the government's legislative agenda for the year ahead.

The ceremony is steeped in ancient traditions and brimming with parliamentary pomp and circumstance.

MPs were summoned by the Yeoman Usher of the Black Rod, standing in for Black Rod himself who was taken ill last week.

Led by Prime Minister David Cameron and Leader of the Opposition Harriet Harman, MPs trooped from the Commons to the Lords to hear the speech read.

By tradition, members of the Commons are only allowed as far as the bar in the Lords chamber; it is from here they stood to listen to the address.

Reflecting times when the relationship between the monarch and Parliament was less cordial, a Government Whip - Mark Francois - was "taken hostage" at Buckingham Palace to guarantee the safe return of the Queen.

Several days of debate will now follow in both chambers on the government's legislative agenda, culminating in a vote in the Commons on an opposition amendment to the speech and the speech itself; the first test of the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government.

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