Pomp and ceremony as the the Queen presides over the state opening of Parliament

Amid the traditional pomp and ceremony of the state opening of Parliament, there was a particularly tender moment. As the Queen, who in her role as Head of State had presided over the event, made her exit, Prince Philip held her hand and diligently helped his wife down the stairs.


The Queen, 89, was supported by her husband Prince Philip, 93

Looking every inch the nation's monarch, the Queen had donned an embroidered cream gown and matching velvet shawl, along with a pair of white gloves, a jewel necklace and earrings and silver handbag.

This year was no fewer than the 62nd time the monarch has opened Parliament, delivering a speech in front of the House of Lords and House of Commons that outlined the government's programme of legislation and policies for the coming year. On just two occasions during her reign she was unable to to complete the task - in 1959 and 1963 when she was pregnant - so naturally the 89-year-old royal looked completely at ease and confident in her role.

The Queen left Buckingham Palace for Westminster in true regal style in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach - only the second of its kind to have been built in the last 100 years.

The royal party were driven from Buckingham Palace to Westminster in a horse-drawn carriage

Upon arrival, she proceeded to the Robing Room where she donned the Robe of State and the Imperial State Crown, which had been driven from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament in a separate carriage.

The crown was originally made for Queen Victoria's coronation in 1838, and features gemstones including the diamond known as the Second Star of Africa, the Black Prince's Ruby, the Stuart Sapphire, St Edward's Sapphire and Queen Elizabeth's Pearls.

The Queen wore a white evening gown by Hardy Amies

Prior to the speech, there are two main traditions which are still kept to this day: a government whip is "held hostage" back at Buckingham Palace, to ensure the safe return of the monarch. This year, the position fell to Vice Chamberlain Kris Hopkins, and upon the imminent arrival of the Queen, yeomen of the guard search the cellars of the palace of Westminster in order ensure that no modern-day Guy Fawkes-style plot is being carried out.

Once ready, the Queen made her way to the House of Lords, hand-in-hand with her husband Prince Philip.

She then delivered her speech from the throne before the two Houses, as well as judges, ambassadors and high commissioners - many of whom wore national or ceremonial dress.

"My government will legislate in the interests of everyone in the country," said the Queen

The Queen said: "My government will legislate in the interests of everyone in the country.

"It will adopt a one nation approach, helping working people get on, supporting aspiration, giving new opportunities to the disadvantaged and bringing different parts of our country together."

Among the government's 26 proposals were calls to establish 500 more free schools and turn struggling ones into academies; offer 30-hours free childcare a week for three and four-year-olds by 2017; and cut the total amount one household can claim on benefits from £26,000 to £23,000.

The couple were joined by the Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles

Prime Minister David Cameron echoed the Queen's words later during his speech on the floor of the Commons, stating that the measures would create "a programme for working people" to encourage employment and "bring our country together".

He said the programme would also offer three million more apprenticeships in the next five years, and a new law would ensure that the minimum wage remains tax free.

On the subject of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, more devolution was promised, while "English votes for English laws" would come into effect in Westminster.