The Queen did not wear her full regalia and Imperial crown for the State Opening of Parliament this morning, instead opting for a turquoise day dress as the traditional pomp and pageantry was scaled back.
Instead of the royal carriage, Her Majesty swept into the sovereign’s entrance at the Palace of Westminster in a Bentley to further reflect the toned-down ceremony.
Number 10 is believed to have requested a less grand-than-usual event so not to alienate the Conservatives’ new working-class voter base.
However not all of the exuberance was axed and the diamond-encrusted crown was still paraded through the chamber to stamp the monarch’s authority on Parliament.
Wearing the elegant turquoise outfit and matching hat, Elizabeth II delivered the 68th speech of her reign, with son and heir Prince Charles on the marginally lower throne beside her.
It is the second time the Queen has addressed MPs and Peers in the House of Lords this year after Boris Johnson memorably prorogued Parliament in October – later ruled to be unlawful.
After fulfilling today’s duties, she will be whisked up to Sandringham for Christmas where she will reflect on a tough year for the Family, which has been dogged by the scandal brewing over Prince Andrew’s relationship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
Hand in hand with Charles, the Queen walked down the aisle of the House of Lords to take her seat on the golden throne where she read the speech written for her by Downing Street, laying out the Prime Minister’s agenda for the new administration
Wearing a mini green outfit and matching hat, the monarch delivered the 68th speech of her reign and the 66th given by her in person, with son and heir Prince Charles on the marginally lower throne beside her
It is the second time the Queen has addressed MPs and Peers in the House of Lords this year, after Boris Johnson memorably prorogued Parliament before failing to get his plan for government through the Commons
Her Majesty swept into the Palace of Westminster in a Bentley instead of her carriage, as the typical pomp and pageantry was scaled back – believed to be at the request of Number 10 which is eager not to alienate its new working-class base
The 2,868-diamond Imperial Crown
The Crown is whisked to the Houses of Parliament today
The Imperial Crown weights two and a half pounds and containing 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires and 17 emeralds.
It was lightened and ‘feminised’ when she took the throne, but there are now fears it is too heavy for the monarch to wear in her advancing years.
Meanwhile the lighter George IV diadem, a tiara that has been passed down from monarch to monarch since George IV’s coronation in 1821 and is worn only for official occasions.
It is worn only for official occasions, such as the State Opening. It features four crosses alternating with bouquets representing different parts of the United Kingdom: roses, thistles and shamrocks.
It features 1,333 diamonds, though it was shrunk by Queen Alexandra in 1902, who removed 11 diamonds to fit her smaller head. The Queen Mother also had it resized.
Since King Charles I famously waged war on Parliament centuries ago, the monarch is not allowed in the Commons chamber and instead sends her representative – Blackrod – to summon the MPs to the House of Lords for the speech.
The Lords is noticeably the grander of the two chambers in Parliament, with ornate paintings suspended from carved wood-panelled walls.
Hand in hand with Charles, the Queen walked down the aisle of the chamber to take her seat on the golden throne, where she placed her black handbag beside her.
The Imperial crown was carried at the front of this procession, resting on a red and gold-tassled cushion held by a robed Yeoman warder.
With a croaky voice, the 93-year-old then read the speech written for her by Downing Street, laying out the Prime Minister’s agenda for the new administration.
It unveiled 25 Bills Mr Johnson which will form the bulk of Mr Johnson’s legislative programme, including pledges on the NHS, housing, immigration and his flagship policy to get Brexit done by putting his withdrawal deal back before MPs on Friday.
During the last State Opening in October, Her Majesty broke with tradition by wearing a lighter George IV diadem from 1821, rather than the much heavier royal crown.
It followed her shunning of the crown in 2017 which was the first time she did not wear it in 40 years – she again wore a ‘day dress’ because of the short speech warranted by Theresa May’s snap general election.
The crown is also enormously heavy – weighing two and a half pounds and containing 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires and 17 emeralds.
Charles – filling in for Prince Philip who has stepped back from royal duties – wore a dark suit and grey tie as he accompanied his mother.
The 93-year-old spoke for nine minutes and 14 seconds – slightly shorter than the previous speech in October, which lasted nine minutes and 40 seconds
The Queen smiles as she attends the State Opening of Parliament, where she delivered a speech setting out Boris Johnson’s legislative programme for government
Prince Charles – filling in for Prince Philip who has stepped back from Royal duties – wore a dark suit and grey tie as he accompanied his mother
The Imperial State Crown is handed passed over in the Sovereign’s entrance for the State Opening of Parliament today
Since King Charles I famously waged war on Parliament centuries ago, the monarch is not allowed in the Commons chamber and instead sends her representative – Blackrod – to summon the MPs to cram into the House of Lords for the speech
His outfit was a marked contrast to the flowing red robes worn by the Peers and the Yeoman warders, who precede the ceremony with a sweep of the building looking for explosives – a traditional dating back to 1605 when Guy Fawkes tried to blow up Parliament.
The Queen spoke for nine minutes and 14 seconds – slightly shorter than the previous speech in October, which lasted nine minutes and 40 seconds.
It lasted 1,043 words, compared with 1,093 in October. Both were below the average length (1,096) of Queen’s Speeches during Elizabeth II’s 67-year reign.
The longest speech to date was in November 1999, when she had to deliver a speech lasting 1,751 words. The text, which took more than 15 minutes to read out, was the third Queen’s Speech of Tony Blair’s Labour government.
The shortest came exactly a decade later, in November 2009. Totalling just 735 words, it took six-and-a-half minutes to deliver and was the third and final Queen’s Speech of Gordon Brown’s Labour government.
The longest Queen’s Speeches have all been under Labour prime ministers, with Tony Blair’s 1997-2001 government accounting for three of the top five.
Among the five shortest speeches is the first one ever delivered by Elizabeth II, which took place in November 1952 and was just 799 words long.
Today’s speech was the 68th Queen’s Speech of Elizabeth II’s reign, and the 66th to be delivered by her in person.
In 1959 and 1963, the Queen did not attend the State Opening of Parliament, when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew and Prince Edward respectively. On these occasions, the speech was read on her behalf by the Lord Chancellor.
Boris Johnson was grinning as he walked to the House of Lords alongside a grim-faced Jeremy Corbyn today
Police motorcyclists follow the Queen’s car as officers line the streets of The Mall while the Queen travels to Parliament today
Boris Johnson will announce immediate help for the high street today in the first Queen’s Speech of his ‘people’s government’
Yeoman warders take part in the traditional ‘ceremonial search’ ceremony. The tradition, which dates from the 1605 gunpowder plot to blow up Parliament, is followed by a police sweep