UK

State Opening Of Parliament: 1,300 Personnel Line London Streets

Members of the military took to Westminster ahead of the State Opening of Parliament.

One thousand three hundred troops and 200 horses have taken to Westminster for the State Opening of Parliament.

All three services were involved in the ceremony, which marks the formal start of a new parliamentary session.

Last week, personnel rehearsed for the event in the middle of the night, careful to neither disturb the Queen, nor to interrupt the busy morning routine of central London.

On Monday morning, Her Majesty was escorted by the Household Cavalry from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament.

The Queen travelled in a carriage procession lined by representatives from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force (RAF).

From there, she delivered the Queen's speech, which set out government plans to continue defence spending targets of 2% of national income.

Brexit and combating serious crime headlined the legislative agenda. 

All elements of the Army's Household Division also escorted the Crown Jewels to and from the Houses of Parliament.

More than 200 horses were involved in the ceremony.

Captain Rob Perera, Household Cavalry, said: "Probably around 80 to 90% of guys who are on today, won't have ever done it before. It has got some similarities to other parades we do, but there are certainly some nuances there and things in particular to the State Opening of Parliament.

"So it will be interesting to do, certainly it is my first one as well so I'm quite looking forward to it."

Six field guns were manned by Gunners of The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Green Park whilst three artillery guns were fired by the Honourable Artillery Company at The Tower of London.

The Band of the Royal Marines provided a strong musical presence, while the RAF and Royal Navy joined the Army in lining the streets along the entire processional route.

The bands are also preparing for Remembrance week. 

The General Officer Commanding London District, Major General Ben Bathurst, commanded all 1,300 of the troops from each service during the ceremony - many of whom were involved recently in operational deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Malawi and the Falkland Islands.

Corporal of Horse, Robert Bishop, Household Cavalry, explained how much work has gone in to getting the horses in shape.

"Obviously they have been turned out for about two months so they were quite fluffy - manes and tails were quite long.

"So they needed a good clip and a good trim and they were a little bit dirty as well - obviously they have been in the field for two months, rolling around, getting themselves nice and grubby."