The National:

TODAY will mark the ceremonial opening of the UK Parliament where Prince Charles is set to deliver the Queen's Speech given that dear old Lizzy is struggling to get about these days.

It's an event which marks the formal start of the parliamentary year and often attracts a significant TV audience. 

And it just wouldn't be Westminster without more than a couple of ridiculous, overly pompous, and outdated traditions that leave us rolling our eyes.

We're not just talking about your "my right honorable friend" addresses and the cow-like groans you hear from the backbenchers, that happens every day. Here's a list of some quite spectacularly bizarre things that happen ahead of the Queens' Speech.

1. The Queen's procession from Buckingham Palace

There were reduced ceremonial events last year due to Covid, but we're back in full snooty swing this year and the day will kick-off with what would normally be the Queen's carriage procession - today of course it's Charlie boy - from Buckingham Palace to Westminster, escorted by the Household Cavalry. This is a union of the two most senior regiments in the British Army; The Life Guards and The Blues & Royals.

Have you fallen asleep yet or started cursing the wind yet? We've not even got started.

2. The Royal Procession

The Queen would then normally arrive at the Sovereign Entrance and proceed to the Robing Room, which is not where you get into one of those white spa gowns but rather put on the Imperial State Crown and the Robe of State. It's not clear whether Charlie will get to wear the same gear, but he'll certainly be leading the Royal Procession through the Royal Gallery, packed with hundreds of guests to the chamber of the House of Lords, our favourite place in all the world (said no one ever).

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3. The Black Rod 

We then get to perhaps the most confusing and side-splitting bit of this whole affair. This is where the House of Lords official, known as the Black Rod, is sent to summon the Commons. The doors to the Commons chamber are then shut in his or her face, a practice dating back to the Civil War, symbolising the Commons' independence from the monarchy. Yes, this is the place where laws are made (and broken it seems), not the Christmas panto. Please do stay with us after the interval and enjoy your ice cream.

4. The knocks

The National:

Speaker Sir Lindsey Hoyle (left) with Lady usher of the Black Rod Sarah Clarke

The Black Rod will then strike the door three times before it is opened, only that way will our MPs know their takeaway has arrived. Members of the House of Commons then follow Black Rod and the Commons Speaker to the Lords Chamber, standing at the opposite end to the throne, known as the Bar of the House, to listen to the speech. Yes, we've finally got there, where we'll find out stuff we already know and where the Government will inevitably not deliver enough. Oh and, in case you didn't already know, the Queen only reads the speech, the Government writes it. 

5. The mace 

The National:

The mace in Parliament is the symbol of royal authority and without it neither House can meet or pass laws. Yup. It's a silver gilt ornamental club of about five feet in length, dating from the reign of Charles II, and you might remember when SNP MP Drew Hendry was suspended from the House when he picked up the mace in December 2020 in a fit of rage. We feel you Drew. Upon every session, the mace is placed at the foot of the Speaker's rostrum, so you'll see it about today. 

Have we missed any bizarre traditions? Let us know in the comments.