The Queen’s Speech will take place today, with the government’s plans for the next year to be set out in an address to parliament and the nation.
Typically a high-profile event with lots of pomp and pageantry relating to the origins of the event, this year’s Queen Speech will look quite different to usual, although it will still have the same importance.
The Queen’s Speech is not to be confused with the Queen’s Christmas Day speech, which she writes herself and delivers from one of her homes.
What is the Queen’s Speech?
The Queen’s Speech is part of the State Opening of Parliament, which marks the official start of each new session of parliament.
Generally the speech takes place in May, although this has not been the case in recent years due to general elections being held.
Written by the government but delivered by the reigning monarch, the Queen’s Speech sets out the government’s priorities for the coming session and what legislation they minted to introduce.
According to the government, the focus of the Queen’s Speech this year will be on “plans to build back better from the pandemic and level-up opportunities across the country”.
When will it take place?
The Queen will deliver this year’s speech today (11 May), with the ceremony to begin at around 11am, and will be covered live on BBC News from 10:30am.
The Queen will deliver the speech from the throne in the House of Lords, and MPs will be summoned to the chamber by an official known as Black Rod.
This year’s Queen’s speech will work differently to most previous years’ due to the pandemic, with less MPs and peers in attendance and a reduced procession into the Lords’ chamber.
A No10 spokesperson said: “While we are still in the middle of a pandemic this Queen’s Speech will look quite different, but it is important we take forward our plans and deliver policies to improve the lives of people across the country through a new Parliamentary session.
“We are working closely with Public Health England to ensure arrangements are COVID-secure.”
Once the Queen has delivered the speech, the opposition will be able to put forward a humble address to the monarch, which has given rise to some controversial requests in recent years, generally relating to Brexit.
Once the speech has been delivered, MPs will debate the contents of the speech over a number of days, with a broad policy focus each day.
What will be included in this year’s Queen’s speech?
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that the Queen’s Speech will focus on beating Covid, as well as looking beyond the pandemic.
He said: “The impact of the pandemic on people’s lives has been unique in our history.
“My Government is still focussed on beating this disease, saving lives and livelihoods and rolling out vaccines, but I am also determined that we look forward and get on with fulfilling the promises we have made to the British people.
“Not only will we address the legacies of the pandemic, we will go further to unite and level up the country, fight crime and create opportunities up and down the country for businesses and families to build brighter futures.”
In terms of legislation, a number of bills are being carried over from the previous session, including the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
The Environment and Armed Forces Bills will also be carried over.
It has also been reported that electoral reform will feature in the speech, with a commitment to repeal the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, and to include a requirement for people to present photo identification at polling stations in order to cast their vote in future elections.