Peers' Parliamentary Robes
Seated together in the House of Lords for the State Opening of Parliament, the robed peers form a sea of scarlet, gold and white.
Meticulously maintained, refurbished and altered, ceremonial robes rarely need replacing. Made from scarlet superfine faced cloth, a durable tightly woven wool fabric, they were finely trimmed with three-inch wide bars, and two-inch wide gold oak leaf lace.
The number of bars and gold reveals the wearer’s rank:
Duke - 4 rows
Marquess - 3½ rows
Earl - 3 rows
Viscount - 2½ rows
Baron - 2 rows
The peers assembled in the House of Lords for the State Opening of Parliament
The Ceremony of Introduction and Prorogation
When a peer takes his or her own seat in the House of Lords for the first time they are introduced to the House by sponsors – two peers of his or her own rank. In this, the ceremony of introduction, all three peers wear parliamentary robes and carry black cocked hats.
The Garter Kings of Arms and the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod join them. The Reading Clerk reads the Letters Patent. Then the new peer swears the oath of allegiance or solemn affirmation and signs the Test Roll.
The ceremony of prorogation brings the session of Parliament to a close.
It is extremely rare for parliamentary robes to be worn outside the Palace of Westminster. It only occurred twice during the 20th century. Both occasions were the investiture of a new Prince of Wales, in 1911 and 1969.