The House of Lords

Throne in the House of Lords

Throne in the House of Lords

When the Queen opens a session of Parliament, she arrives with Prince Philip in the Irish State Coach and alights at the foot of the Royal Stair­case beneath the great archway of the Victoria Tower. Ascending to the Norman Porch, she enters the Robing Room, where she assumes the Imperial State Crown and puts on the Parliament Robe. A procession is then formed, which passes through the Royal Gallery and the Prince’s Chamber, and thence into the House of Lords, where the archbishops and bishops, peers and peeresses, the judges and the diplomatic corps are already assembled. When the Queen has taken her seat upon the Throne with Prince Philip on her left, the Lord Great Chamberlain, by Her Majesty’s command raises his wand, and upon this signal the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod goes to the House of Commons. At his approach the door of the Commons Chamber is slammed in his face, and upon his knocking three times with his rod, is opened. He enters the Chamber and delivers his message commanding the attendance of ‘this Honourable House’ in the House of Peers. The Speaker, preceded by the Serjeant at Arms bearing the Mace and followed by the Clerk of the House, his Chaplain and his Secretary, then leads the Commons to the House of Lords. When the Commons have arrived at the Bar, the Queen, having received a copy of the Most Gracious Speech from the kneeling Lord Chancellor, reads it to the assembled Lords and Commons.

When the House of Lords sits as a legislative body, the Lord Chan­cellor presides as Speaker, sitting on the Woolsack 8. The bishops sit immediately on his right, and the peers who support the Government on the same side farther down the Chamber. Opposition peers sit on his left, and peers unattached to a political party on the cross-benches facing him.

The House of Lords is not only a legislative and deliberative body, but also a court of justice, being the final Court of Appeal for Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Judicial business is done by the Lords of Appeal, who are the Lord Chancellor, the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary and other peers who hold or have held high judicial office, and such a sitting is a full sitting of the House. In recent years, however, most Appeals have been heard upstairs in a committee room, and only the opinions or judgments have been delivered in the Chamber.

From 1941, when their own Chamber was laid in ruins, until 1950, when their new Chamber was opened, the Commons sat in the House of Lords, while the Lords sat in the Queen’s Robing Room.

The Woolsack, on which the Lord Chancellor sits as Speaker of the House of Lords with the Mace behind him

The Woolsack, on which the Lord Chancellor sits as Speaker of the House of Lords with the Mace behind him

The Main Door of the House of Lords from the Lords Lobby

The Main Door of the House of Lords from the Lords Lobby

The Library of the House of Lords

The Library of the House of Lords

 

TheCentral Lobby, where constituents wait to see their Members

The Central Lobby, where constituents wait to see their Members

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