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The '''State Opening of Congress''' is an event which formally marks the beginning of a session of the {{JoW|Imperial Congress of Cygnia}}. It includes the '''Speech from the Throne'''. The State Opening is an elaborate ceremony showcasing Cygnian culture and contemporary politics to large crowds and television viewers.
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The '''State Opening of Congress''' is an event which formally marks the beginning of a session of the {{JoW|Imperial Congress of Cygnia}}. It includes the '''State of the Empire Address'''. The State Opening is an elaborate ceremony showcasing Cygnian culture and contemporary politics to large crowds and television viewers.
   
It takes place in the Senate chamber on 23 January every year in front of both Houses of Congress. The Emperor, wearing the Imperial State Crown, reads a speech that has been prepared by his government outlining its plans for the next year.
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The State Opening of Congress takes place in the House of Representatives chamber on 23 January every year in front of both Houses of Congress. The Emperor, wearing the Imperial State Crown, delivers a speech detailing the Government's legislative agenda for the coming year.
   
 
Emperor {{JoW|Theodore V of Cygnia|Theodore V}} has opened every session of Congress since his accession.
 
Emperor {{JoW|Theodore V of Cygnia|Theodore V}} has opened every session of Congress since his accession.
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===Assembly of Senators and Representatives===
 
===Assembly of Senators and Representatives===
Senators assemble in the Senate chamber. They are joined by the members of the {{JoW|Supreme Court of Cygnia|Supreme Court}} and of the diplomatic corps. Members of the House of Representatives assemble in their own chamber.
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Representatives assemble in the House of Representatives chamber. They are joined by the members of the {{JoW|Supreme Court of Cygnia|Supreme Court}} and of the diplomatic corps. Senators assemble in their own chamber. In the House of Representatives, Members sit closer to each other so as to provide more room for the Senators, who will join the Representatives later in the ceremony.
   
 
===Election of Speaker and President===
 
===Election of Speaker and President===
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===Arrival of the Sovereign and assembly of Congress===
 
===Arrival of the Sovereign and assembly of Congress===
The Emperor arrives from {{JoW|Ellingham Palace}} at Federation Hall in his official state car, entering through the main entrance. He is accompanied by the Empress and sometimes by other members of the Imperial Family, such as the Duke and Duchess of Augusta, or the Princess Imperial. Traditionally, members of the armed forces line the procession route from Ellingham Palace to Federation Hall. The Imperial Standard is hoisted to replace the Cygnian flag upon the Sovereign's entrance and remains flying while he is in attendance. Then, after he takes on the Congressional Robe of State and Imperial State Crown in a short ceremony held in the Great Hall, the Emperor proceeds to the main entrance of the Senate chamber, usually accompanied by the Empress and immediately preceded by the Earl Marshal, and by the President of the Senate carrying the Cap of Maintenance on a white rod, and the Chief of Unified Defence Command carrying the Great Sword of State. Once seated on the throne, the Emperor, wearing the Imperial State Crown, instructs the Senate by saying, "Honourable Senators, pray be seated"; the Empress takes her seat on the throne to his left and other members of the Imperial family may be seated elsewhere on the dais (for instance the Duke and Duchess of Augusta are seated on thrones on a lower portion of the dais to the Emperor's right.)
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The Emperor arrives from {{JoW|Ellingham Palace}} at Federation Hall in his official state car, entering through the main entrance. He is accompanied by the Empress and sometimes by other members of the Imperial Family, such as the Duke and Duchess of Augusta. Traditionally, members of the armed forces line the procession route from Ellingham Palace to Federation Hall. The Imperial Standard is hoisted to replace the Cygnian flag upon the Sovereign's entrance and remains flying while he is in attendance. Then, after he takes on the Congressional Robe of State and Imperial State Crown in a short ceremony held in the Great Hall, the Emperor proceeds to the main entrance of the House chamber, usually accompanied by the Empress and immediately preceded by the Earl Marshal, and by the Speaker of the House carrying the Cap of Maintenance on a white rod, and the Chief of Unified Defence Command carrying the Great Sword of State. Having reached the lectern set up in front of the Speaker's chair, the Emperor instructs the House by saying, "Honourable Representatives, pray be seated"; the other members of the Imperial Family take their seats on chairs laid out beforehand beside the Speaker.
   
 
===Imperial summons of the House to the Senate chamber===
 
===Imperial summons of the House to the Senate chamber===
Motioned by the Sovereign, the President of the Senate raises his ceremonial gavel to signal to the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, who is charged with summoning the House of Representatives and has been waiting in the House lobby. Black Rod turns and, under the escort of the Doorkeeper of the Senate and a police inspector (who orders "Hats off, Strangers!" to all persons along the way), approaches the door to the Chamber of the House of Representatives.
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Motioned by the Sovereign, the Speaker of the House raises his ceremonial gavel to signal to the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, who is charged with summoning the Senate and has been waiting in the House lobby. Black Rod turns and, under the escort of the Doorkeeper of the House and a police inspector (who orders "Hats off, Strangers!" to all persons along the way), enters the Chamber of the Senate. At the bar, Black Rod bows to the President before proceeding to the dispatch box where he announces the command of the Emperor for the attendance of the Senate, in the following words:
   
In a tradition carried over from the British State Openings of Parliament, the doors of the House of Representatives chamber are slammed shut against Black Rod upon his approach, symbolising the rights of Congress and its independence from the Sovereign. He then taps with the end of the Black Rod three times on the closed doors of the House Chamber, and is then admitted. At the bar, Black Rod bows to the Speaker before proceeding to the dispatch box where he announces the command of the Emperor for the attendance of the House, in the following words:
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{{Quote|Mr [or Madam] President, the Emperor commands this honourable Senate [pauses to bow to both sides of the House] to attend His Imperial Majesty immediately in the Chamber of the House of Representatives.}}
   
{{Quote|Mr [or Madam] Speaker, the Emperor commands this honourable House [pauses to bow to both sides of the House] to attend His Imperial Majesty immediately in the Chamber of the Imperial Senate.}}
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===Procession of the Senators===
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The President proceeds to attend the summons at once. The Sergeant-at-Arms picks up the Black Rod and, with the Speaker and the Sergeant-at-Arms, leads the Senators as they process, in pairs, towards the House of Representatives chamber. The Senate Government Leader and the Senate Leader of the Opposition, followed by the Deputy Government Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition usually walk side by side, leading the two lines of Senators. The Members then arrive at the Bar of the House where they bow to the Emperor. Then, the Senators take their seats in the House of Representatives chamber.
===Procession of the Representatives===
 
The Speaker proceeds to attend the summons at once. The Sergeant-at-Arms picks up the ceremonial mace and, with the Speaker and Black Rod, leads the Members of the House of Representatives as they walk, in pairs, towards the Senate chamber. By custom, the Members saunter, with much discussion and joking, rather than formally process. The Chancellor and the Leader of the Opposition, followed by the Vice Chancellor and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition usually walk side by side, leading the two lines of MCs. The Members then arrive at the Bar of the Senate where they bow to the Emperor. No person who is not a Senator may pass the Bar unbidden when it is in session; a similar rule applies to the House. They remain standing at the Bar during the speech.
 
   
 
===Delivery of the speech===
 
===Delivery of the speech===
The Emperor reads a prepared speech, known as the "Speech from the Throne", outlining the Government's agenda for the coming year. The speech is written by the Chancellor and his/her cabinet, and reflects the legislative agenda for which the Government seeks the agreement of both Houses of Congress. It is traditionally written on goatskin vellum, and presented on bended knee for the Emperor to read by the President of the Senate, who produces the scroll from a satchel-like bag. Traditionally, rather than turning his back on the Sovereign, which might appear disrespectful, the President walks backwards down the steps of the throne, continuing to face the Sovereign.
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The Emperor delivers a speech, known as the "State of the Empire Address", outlining the Government's agenda for the coming year. The speech is usually written by his personal speechwriter, and is based on the main points of the Government's legislative agenda for which the Government seeks the agreement of both Houses of Congress.
   
 
The whole speech is addressed to "Honourable Senators and Members of the House", with one significant exception that the Emperor says specifically, "Members of the House of Representatives, estimates for the public services will be laid before you", since the budget is constitutionally reserved to the House.
 
The whole speech is addressed to "Honourable Senators and Members of the House", with one significant exception that the Emperor says specifically, "Members of the House of Representatives, estimates for the public services will be laid before you", since the budget is constitutionally reserved to the House.
   
The Emperor reads the entire speech in a neutral and formal tone, implying neither approval nor disapproval of the proposals of His Majesty's Government: the Emperor makes constant reference to "My Government" when reading the text. After listing the main bills to be introduced during the session, the Emperor states: "other measures will be laid before you", thus leaving the Government scope to introduce bills not mentioned in the speech. The Emperor mentions any State Visits that he intends to make and also any planned State Visits of foreign leaders to Cygnia during the Congressional session. The Emperor concludes the speech in saying:
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The Emperor delivers the entire speech in a neutral and formal tone, implying neither approval nor disapproval of the proposals of His Majesty's Government: the Emperor makes constant reference to "My Government"during the speech. After listing the main bills to be introduced during the session, the Emperor states: "other measures will be laid before you", thus leaving the Government scope to introduce bills not mentioned in the speech. The Emperor mentions any State Visits that he intends to make and also any planned State Visits of foreign leaders to Cygnia during the Congressional session. The Emperor concludes the speech in saying:
   
 
{{Quote|Honourable Members, Honourable Senators, I pray that you will heed these words, and serve to the best of your ability, this Empire, her Constitution, and her People.}}
 
{{Quote|Honourable Members, Honourable Senators, I pray that you will heed these words, and serve to the best of your ability, this Empire, her Constitution, and her People.}}
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===Departure of the Sovereign===
 
===Departure of the Sovereign===
Following the speech, the Emperor leaves the chamber before the Members of the House bow again and return to their Chamber.
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Following the speech, the Emperor leaves the chamber before the Senators bow again and return to their Chamber.
   
 
==Debate on the speech==
 
==Debate on the speech==
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{{Quote|Most Gracious Sovereign,
 
{{Quote|Most Gracious Sovereign,
   
We, Your Imperial Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Honourable Senators in Congress assembled, beg leave to thank Your Imperial Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Imperial Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Congress.}}
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We, Your Imperial Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Honourable Representatives in Congress assembled, beg leave to thank Your Imperial Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Imperial Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Congress.}}
   
 
The first speech of the debate in the House of Representatives is, by tradition, a humorous one given by a member selected in advance. The consideration of the address in reply to the Speech from the Throne is the occasion for a debate on the Government's agenda. The debate on the Address in Reply is spread over several days. On each day, a different topic, such as foreign affairs or finance, is considered. The debate provides and indication of the views of Congress regarding the government's agenda.
 
The first speech of the debate in the House of Representatives is, by tradition, a humorous one given by a member selected in advance. The consideration of the address in reply to the Speech from the Throne is the occasion for a debate on the Government's agenda. The debate on the Address in Reply is spread over several days. On each day, a different topic, such as foreign affairs or finance, is considered. The debate provides and indication of the views of Congress regarding the government's agenda.
   
 
==Significance==
 
==Significance==
The State Opening of Congress is a ceremony loaded with historical ritual and symbolic significance for the governance of Cygnia. In one place are assembled the members of all three branches of government: the Imperial Congress constitutes the legislature; the Emperor and His Majesty's Cabinet (who are members of one or other House) constitute the executive; the Supreme Court are summoned to represent the judiciary. Therefore, the State Opening demonstrates not only the governance of Cygnia but also the separation of powers. The importance of international relations is also represented through the presence in the Chamber of the Diplomatic Corps.
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The State Opening of Congress is a ceremony loaded with symbolic significance for the governance of Cygnia. In one place are assembled the members of all three branches of government: the Imperial Congress constitutes the legislature; the Emperor and His Majesty's Cabinet (who are members of one or other House) constitute the executive; the Supreme Court are summoned to represent the judiciary. Therefore, the State Opening demonstrates not only the governance of Cygnia but also the separation of powers. The importance of international relations is also represented through the presence in the Chamber of the Diplomatic Corps.
   
 
{{Cygnia Portal}}
 
{{Cygnia Portal}}

Revision as of 17:12, May 2, 2017

The State Opening of Congress is an event which formally marks the beginning of a session of the Imperial Congress of Cygnia. It includes the State of the Empire Address. The State Opening is an elaborate ceremony showcasing Cygnian culture and contemporary politics to large crowds and television viewers.

The State Opening of Congress takes place in the House of Representatives chamber on 23 January every year in front of both Houses of Congress. The Emperor, wearing the Imperial State Crown, delivers a speech detailing the Government's legislative agenda for the coming year.

Emperor Theodore V has opened every session of Congress since his accession.

Sequence of events

The State Opening is a lavish ceremony of several parts:

Assembly of Senators and Representatives

Representatives assemble in the House of Representatives chamber. They are joined by the members of the Supreme Court and of the diplomatic corps. Senators assemble in their own chamber. In the House of Representatives, Members sit closer to each other so as to provide more room for the Senators, who will join the Representatives later in the ceremony.

Election of Speaker and President

If the Congress is being opened for its first session, before the beginning of the ceremony, each House of Congress engages in its first vote to elect their presiding officers, most notably the Speaker in the House of Representatives and the President in the Senate. Once each is chosen by their respective house, they take their places at the heads of the chambers.

Arrival of imperial regalia

Before the arrival of the sovereign, the Imperial State Crown is carried to Federation Hall in a State Coach, guarded by four members of the Armed Forces, each one representing its four branches. From the main entrance, the Crown is passed by the seniormost guard to the Comptroller of the Lord Chamberlain's office. It is then carried, along with the Great Sword of State and the Cap of Maintenance, to be displayed in the Imperial Gallery.

Arrival of the Sovereign and assembly of Congress

The Emperor arrives from Ellingham Palace at Federation Hall in his official state car, entering through the main entrance. He is accompanied by the Empress and sometimes by other members of the Imperial Family, such as the Duke and Duchess of Augusta. Traditionally, members of the armed forces line the procession route from Ellingham Palace to Federation Hall. The Imperial Standard is hoisted to replace the Cygnian flag upon the Sovereign's entrance and remains flying while he is in attendance. Then, after he takes on the Congressional Robe of State and Imperial State Crown in a short ceremony held in the Great Hall, the Emperor proceeds to the main entrance of the House chamber, usually accompanied by the Empress and immediately preceded by the Earl Marshal, and by the Speaker of the House carrying the Cap of Maintenance on a white rod, and the Chief of Unified Defence Command carrying the Great Sword of State. Having reached the lectern set up in front of the Speaker's chair, the Emperor instructs the House by saying, "Honourable Representatives, pray be seated"; the other members of the Imperial Family take their seats on chairs laid out beforehand beside the Speaker.

Imperial summons of the House to the Senate chamber

Motioned by the Sovereign, the Speaker of the House raises his ceremonial gavel to signal to the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, who is charged with summoning the Senate and has been waiting in the House lobby. Black Rod turns and, under the escort of the Doorkeeper of the House and a police inspector (who orders "Hats off, Strangers!" to all persons along the way), enters the Chamber of the Senate. At the bar, Black Rod bows to the President before proceeding to the dispatch box where he announces the command of the Emperor for the attendance of the Senate, in the following words:

Mr [or Madam] President, the Emperor commands this honourable Senate [pauses to bow to both sides of the House] to attend His Imperial Majesty immediately in the Chamber of the House of Representatives.

Procession of the Senators

The President proceeds to attend the summons at once. The Sergeant-at-Arms picks up the Black Rod and, with the Speaker and the Sergeant-at-Arms, leads the Senators as they process, in pairs, towards the House of Representatives chamber. The Senate Government Leader and the Senate Leader of the Opposition, followed by the Deputy Government Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition usually walk side by side, leading the two lines of Senators. The Members then arrive at the Bar of the House where they bow to the Emperor. Then, the Senators take their seats in the House of Representatives chamber.

Delivery of the speech

The Emperor delivers a speech, known as the "State of the Empire Address", outlining the Government's agenda for the coming year. The speech is usually written by his personal speechwriter, and is based on the main points of the Government's legislative agenda for which the Government seeks the agreement of both Houses of Congress.

The whole speech is addressed to "Honourable Senators and Members of the House", with one significant exception that the Emperor says specifically, "Members of the House of Representatives, estimates for the public services will be laid before you", since the budget is constitutionally reserved to the House.

The Emperor delivers the entire speech in a neutral and formal tone, implying neither approval nor disapproval of the proposals of His Majesty's Government: the Emperor makes constant reference to "My Government"during the speech. After listing the main bills to be introduced during the session, the Emperor states: "other measures will be laid before you", thus leaving the Government scope to introduce bills not mentioned in the speech. The Emperor mentions any State Visits that he intends to make and also any planned State Visits of foreign leaders to Cygnia during the Congressional session. The Emperor concludes the speech in saying:

Honourable Members, Honourable Senators, I pray that you will heed these words, and serve to the best of your ability, this Empire, her Constitution, and her People.

Traditionally, the members of both Houses of Congress listen to the Speech from the Throne respectfully, neither applauding nor showing dissent towards the speech's contents before it is debated in each House.

Departure of the Sovereign

Following the speech, the Emperor leaves the chamber before the Senators bow again and return to their Chamber.

Debate on the speech

After the Emperor's departure, each Chamber proceeds to the consideration of an "Address in Reply to His Imperial Majesty's Gracious Speech." For the address in reply, a chosen member moves "That a humble Address be presented to His Imperial Majesty, as follows". The following is the form used in the Senate and is identical to that used in the House of Representatives:

Most Gracious Sovereign,

We, Your Imperial Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Honourable Representatives in Congress assembled, beg leave to thank Your Imperial Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Imperial Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Congress.

The first speech of the debate in the House of Representatives is, by tradition, a humorous one given by a member selected in advance. The consideration of the address in reply to the Speech from the Throne is the occasion for a debate on the Government's agenda. The debate on the Address in Reply is spread over several days. On each day, a different topic, such as foreign affairs or finance, is considered. The debate provides and indication of the views of Congress regarding the government's agenda.

Significance

The State Opening of Congress is a ceremony loaded with symbolic significance for the governance of Cygnia. In one place are assembled the members of all three branches of government: the Imperial Congress constitutes the legislature; the Emperor and His Majesty's Cabinet (who are members of one or other House) constitute the executive; the Supreme Court are summoned to represent the judiciary. Therefore, the State Opening demonstrates not only the governance of Cygnia but also the separation of powers. The importance of international relations is also represented through the presence in the Chamber of the Diplomatic Corps.

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