Queen Elizabeth II carried out her first major public engagement since her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, died last month. The queen attended the State Opening of Parliament on Tuesday, which was scaled back due to the pandemic, to give the Queen’s Speech, a significant address that sets out what laws the government wants to pass.
The Queen’s Speech usually happens once a year, typically in the spring or after an election, as part of the State Opening of Parliament ceremony, according to BBC News. However, the last Queen’s Speech took place in December 2019, two weeks after Boris Johnson was elected. The speech signified Johnson could set out his agenda for the next session of parliament, which ended in April 2021.
Tuesday’s speech was the queen’s first engagement outside Windsor Castle since the death of her husband. She usually arrives in a carriage with a long procession. This time, she arrived in a Bentley limousine with 74 people, including herself, in the chamber as she read her speech from the throne in the House of Lords.
Face masks were worn and there was no military and or guard of honor due to pandemic restrictions. Usually, diplomatic or non-parliamentary guests are invited and the total attendance is typically 600 people.
In her 10-minute speech, she highlighted 30 laws that ministers intend to pass in the coming year, including bills on infrastructure, the armed forces, borders and security, housing and the environment, according to BBC News.
One would extend 5G mobile coverage, while another, controversial measure proposes new powers for police officers over protesters and new sentences for serious crimes.
An education bill introduced a new “flexible loan” system for higher education in England and three bills on animal welfare will ban the export of live animals for fattening and slaughter, as well as make it mandatory to microchip cats.
Following Prince Philip’s death, the queen first hosted an event attended by her family at Windsor Castle, according to the Court Circular. The monarch hosted a ceremony where the Earl Peel formally stood down as Lord Chamberlain, whose office organizes royal ceremonies.
During the state opening, Charles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, were alongside the queen. Charles had attended the last three occasions with his mother – in December 2019, October 2019 and Jun 2017 – because Prince Philip was sick with an infection, two months before the consort retired from public duties.
Former President Barack Obama, Sir Paul McCartney and a maid of honor to the Queen at her coronation reflect on the extraordinary reign of Queen Elizabeth II in “The Queen Carries On: A Gayle King Special.” The special airs Friday, May 14 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS and is available to stream live and on demand on Paramount +.