In The Queen’s absence today, The Prince of Wales and The Duke of Cambridge acted on behalf of The Queen in attending the State Opening of Parliament. They were joined by The Duchess of Cornwall.
The Queen cancelled her appearance at the ceremonial event last night, due to ‘episodic mobility issues’ and gave permission for the next two heirs to open Parliament. It was the first time in 59 years that she has missed the State Opening of Parliament. The last time she missed the occasion was in 1963 when she was pregnant with Prince Edward.
Prince Charles was dressed in his Admiral of the Fleet uniform for the event, whilst Prince William wearing a morning suit. It also marked Prince William’s first State Opening of Parliament, marking a major royal milestone for him.
The pair were chosen for the job as as Counsellors of State, given special powers on behalf of The Queen for the occasion.
The future King, 72, gave the speech from the Consort’s throne, which was used by his father, Prince Philip, for decades during the ceremony. The Monarch’s throne was removed for the occasion.
In Her Majesty’s speech, Charles read how the government’s priority ‘is to grow and strengthen the economy and help ease the cost of living for families’.
The speech highlighted some of the 38 laws which ministers intend to pass in the coming year, including:
- – The Levelling up and Regeneration Bill which will give councils new planning powers.
- – The Online Safety Bill is a mammoth piece of legislation to deliver a government pledge to better regulate content appearing on the internet. The Countess of Wessex backed The Mirror’s campaign earlier this year to strengthen the bill to protect more children.
- – A new Schools Bill will give the schools regulator powers to crack down on unregistered schools in England, and introduce attendance registers.
- – An Energy Security Bill will contain new powers aimed at boosting renewable energy, and promote a market in electric heat pumps.
When Queen Victoria refused to open Parliament for a number of years after the death of Prince Albert, the Lord Chamberlain read the speech. Today was the first time this particular duty had been delegated to a Counsellor of State like this.
The Imperial State Crown, the greatest symbol of British sovereign power and authority, did make an appearance, and was carried to Westminster in a limousine with Britain’s Crown Jeweller. It was placed on a table in front of where the throne would sit.
MPs from the House of Commons – including Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer – were called from the lower chamber to hear the speech by Black Rod, and the door slammed in her face as she tried to enter, as per tradition, marking Parliament’s independence from the Monarch.
There are many traditions that form part of the formal opening, including the searching of the cellars the night before the ceremony, symbolic of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot, as well as an MP being taken hostage at Buckingham Palace as a guarantor of the Monarch’s safety; this is a tradition that dates back to the reign of Charles I, who had a fraught relationship with Parliament, resulting in the English Civil War.
You can watch the Queen's Speech live with the House of Lords on Twitter from 11.25 ?https://t.co/2BTC2DdsZq
— UK Parliament (@UKParliament) May 9, 2022
Read more about the full history and ceremony of the State Opening of Parliament here.
In 2021, Prince Charles joined The Queen in 2021 for a scaled back version of the ceremony.