The Queen's Era Coming To An End: Prince Charles Takes On New Royal Duties

Category: Media & Culture / May 08, 2013 3:34PM EDT
Britain's Queen Elizabeth made her way in a horse-driven carriage from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday (May 8) for the most important ceremonial day in the parliamentary calendar - the State Opening of Parliament. Each year the monarch reads out the Queen's Speech in the House of Lords, outlining government plans for the coming legislative year. One of the most striking images is that of Black Rod, the Queen's representative at Westminster, summoning Members of Parliament from the House of Commons to the Lords chamber to listen to the speech. Traditionally, the door is slammed in Black Rod's face, before he knocks three times with his rod and the door is opened. The ritual is symbolic of the 17th Century Civil War and the Commons' willingness to resist the Crown. Prime Minister David Cameron, the leader of the opposition Labour party Ed Miliband, followed by ministers and MPs then file into the House of Lords, where they stand to listen to the Queen's Speech. This year one of the key announcements is plans to put in place tougher immigration laws. The government wants to make it easier to deport foreign criminals and clamp down on illegal immigrants. For the first time since 1996, Prince Charles, the heir to the throne attended the ceremony. He was accompanies by his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, who was attending for the first time ever. Their presence is widely viewed as another sign the 87-year-old monarch is planning to scale back her public duties. Earlier this week Buckingham Palace announced that for the first time in 40 years the Queen will not be attending this year's Commonwealth Summit. Prince Charles will take her place at the November meeting in Sri Lanka instead. (Video Source: REUTERS)