What happens at an Official Opening of the Senedd?

Published 13/10/2021   |   Last Updated 13/10/2021   |   Reading Time minutes

On Thursday 14 October Her Majesty The Queen, alongside His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall, will be visiting Cardiff to attend the Official Opening of the sixth session of the Senedd.

What happens at an Official Opening of the Senedd?

Proceedings start when the ceremonial mace is carried into the Senedd by a mace-bearer from the Senedd’s Security team. The mace-bearer will be followed into the building by Members of the Senedd and key guests.

Once everyone is seated, the Official Opening ceremony will begin in in the Senedd’s debating chamber. Her Majesty the Queen will make a speech, as will the Llywydd of the Senedd, Elin Jones MS, and First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford MS.  

The ceremonial mace will then be placed in its sconce to signify the official opening of the sixth Senedd.  

Once the ceremony is over, there will be a reading of a specially commissioned poem, Ein Llais (‘Your Voice’) by Welsh-language Children’s Laureate Gruffudd Owen. The poem will be read by two former members of the Welsh Youth Parliament.

The Royal Party will then meet the Covid Community Champions. The Champions are ordinary people from across Wales, nominated by Members of the Senedd for their work in the local community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Why do we have an official opening?

The Queen officially opened the first National Assembly for Wales in 1999 and has opened every session following an election in Wales since then. She also visited in 2006 to open the newly built Senedd building on St David’s Day. The Official Opening is usually held soon after an election, but has been delayed this year due to coronavirus restrictions.

What is the mace?

Like many parliaments, the Senedd has a ceremonial mace. A highly decorated staff made of wood or metal, a ceremonial mace is carried into a parliament as part of its official opening ceremony, originally symbolising the monarch’s authority.

The Senedd’s mace was a gift from the Parliament of New South Wales, presented for the opening of the Senedd building in 2006. It was designed and made by the Melbourne goldsmith Fortunato Rocca, and was hand crafted from gold, silver and brass.

During the official opening ceremony in the Siambr (the Senedd’s debating chamber) the ceremonial mace is placed in its sconce to signify the official opening of the sixth Senedd.

Who will be performing?

The event will include creative performances by musicians, dancers, singers and artists from all over Wales, illustrating the theme of ‘Your Voice’.

There will be performances from Alis Huws, Official Harpist to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, National Dance Company Wales, Hijinx Theatre Wales, Welsh National Youth Opera and Tân Cerdd. For more information about the performers please visit the Official Opening webpage.

The photographer, filmmaker and poet Zillah Bowes has also created a unique artwork for the Official Opening called Gwawr / Dawn. It features photographs of people from all over Wales captured outside in the dawn light, and will be will be available to view online on the day of the Official Opening.  

Due to coronavirus restrictions, for the first time the Official Opening will include a mixture of both in-person and pre-recorded performances.

How can I watch the Official Opening?

Wherever you are in the world, you can join us live for the official opening of the Sixth Senedd.

You can watch the Official Opening ceremony from the Senedd Siambr live on 14 October 2021 from 11:00 GMT.

Further information including the full running order of the day.

What happened last time?

For a taste of what will happen on 14 October, you can view our photo galleries of the last two official openings of the Senedd (then known as the National Assembly for Wales) on Flickr:

Fifth Assembly

Fourth Assembly

You can watch the full opening of the Fifth Assembly on Senedd.tv