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2nd Jul, 2022

When and what time is the Queen's Speech and what can we expect from today's State Opening of Parliament?

Rob George 10th May, 2022

THE GOVERNMENT will outline its policies for the next parliamentary session at the State Opening of Parliament today (Tuesday) but Her Majesty the Queen will be absent from the grand occasion.

Prince Charles will stand in for the Queen this year after the monarch cancelled her attendance over her ongoing mobility issues. It’s the first time she will miss the event in more than 60 years. Prince William is also due to attend the ceremony for the first time.

The Queen’s Speech is expected at around 11.30am. The speech is written by the government but will be delivered by Prince Charles from the House of Lords throne.

The end of the speech marks the start of the new parliamentary session, which begins with members of both Houses debating the content of the speech over a number of days.

What will be in the Queen’s Speech?

Bills which the Government say will cut red tape and ‘unnecessary barriers inherited from the EU’ following Brexit will be at the heart of the speech.

Changes to Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trading arrangements will also feature as will enhanced powers of education watchdogs to create ‘a school system which works for every child’.

Under the plans, England’s schools will be required to publish an attendance policy and there will be compulsory registers for children who are not in classrooms so the authorities can identify who is not receiving a full-time education.

Powers which could see landlords forced rent out empty shops could also be part of the speech.

What happens during the State Opening of Parliament? 

The State Opening of Parliament is known for its grand ceremonial aspects including some strange traditions, many of which can be traced back as far as the 16th century. The current ceremony dates back to the opening of the rebuilt Palace of Westminster in 1852 after the fire of 1834.

The event usually begins with the Queen’s procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster. The Queen is usually escorted by the Household Cavalry but has travelled in a car rather than a carriage in recent years. The monarch arrives at the Sovereign’s Entrance before proceeding to the Robing Room. Since 2016, the Queen has used the lift rather than the stairs when arriving and leaving Westminster.

The Queen leads the Royal Procession through the Royal Gallery and into the chamber of the House of Lords. The House of Lords official, who is known as Black Rod is then sent to summon the prime minister and the MPs from the Commons.

As Black Rod approaches the door to the Commons, they are slammed in his face.

This is a practice dating back to the Civil War and symbolises the Commons’ independence from the monarchy. Black Rod uses his rod to strike the door three times before it is opened. Members of the Commons then follow Black Rod and the Commons Speaker to the Lords chamber, where they stand at the opposite end to the throne to listen to the speech.

What happens when the Queen can’t attend? 

Today marks only the third occasion during her reign in which The Queen has missed the state opening of Parliament – the previous occasions were when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew in 1959 and in 1963 when pregnant with Earl of Wessex. On those occasions, her speech was read by the Lord Chancellor.

While it was hoped she would attend this year’s ceremony, Buckingham Palace confirmed on Monday (May 9) she would miss the occasion.

A Letters Patent has now been authorised by the Queen to cover the State Opening of Parliament.

It delegates to Counsellors of State the royal function of opening a new session of Parliament. In this instance, it enables Charles and William to jointly exercise that function.

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