The Queen delegates the opening of Parliament for the first time

LONDON (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II delegated one of her most important public duties to Prince Charles on Tuesday, underscoring the increasingly central role the heir to the crown plays as his mother prepares to celebrate. his 70 years on the throne.

Charles presided over the State Opening of Parliament and delivered the Queen’s Speech setting out the government’s legislative programme. The event is a symbol of the monarch’s constitutional role as head of state and comes with centuries of tradition aimed at demonstrating the strength of British political institutions.

The Queen’s decision to delegate her role to Charles is likely to be seen by the public as evidence that a transition is underway, with the 96-year-old monarch remaining on the throne but handing more responsibility to her eldest son.

The choreography of the time highlighted an absent and yet always present queen. His throne had been removed, but in its place the Imperial Crown sat on a pillow. Charles, dressed in the uniform of a fleet admiral, shone with gold braid rather than sweeping ermine robes.

He was surrounded by his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, and his son, Prince William. It was basically the dynasty.

“I think the focus here was clearly on continuity, a symbolic presence of Elizabeth II, if not a physical presence, and also what the future is likely to look like,” said Ed Owens, royal historian and author of ” The Family Firm: Monarchy, Mass Media and the British Public 1932-1953.″

WHAT IS THE QUEEN’S SPEECH?

The speech is delivered at the official opening of each session of Parliament and outlines the government’s legislative program.

It is drafted by the elected government, currently led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and is read at a joint meeting of the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

The monarch traditionally arrives for the event by horse-drawn carriage, sits on the Sovereign’s Throne in the House of Lords, and wears the Imperial State Crown.

But Charles, 73, drove up and sat not on the sovereign’s throne, which had been removed, but on the wife’s throne, which had been used by his late father, Prince Philip. Where the Queen’s throne normally sits, the Imperial State Crown was placed on a velvet cushion.

Charles delivered the speech in the third person, referring to “Her Majesty’s Government”.

WHY DID ELIZABETH DECIDE TO SKIP THE SPEECH?

Buckingham Palace did not elaborate on what it called “episodic mobility issues”, but the Queen has struggled to get around in recent months. She has been seen using a cane on some occasions and Prince Andrew escorted her to Westminster Abbey last month for Prince Philip’s memorial service.

The event involves more than just reading the speech. There is a long walk to the House of Lords, stairs to the throne and in recent years the need to get in and out of the car. All of these obstacles could pose challenges for the sovereign.

Elizabeth, who only recently recovered from a bout of COVID-19, is also gearing up for four days of festivities celebrating her Platinum Jubilee which are scheduled for June 2-5.

HAS THE QUEEN EVER MISSED THE SPEECH BEFORE?

Yes. In 1959, when she was in late pregnancy with Prince Andrew, and again in 1963 before Prince Edward was born.

On both occasions, Parliament was opened by a Royal Commission, with the speech delivered by the President.

WHAT IS DIFFERENT THIS TIME?

This year, the Queen formally asked Prince Charles to deliver the speech under rules that allow him to delegate some of his duties to senior members of the Royal Family who are considered ‘advisers of state’. As Councilors of State are required to act in pairs, Charles was accompanied by his eldest son, Prince William.

Because the duties had been delegated to Charles, there was less disruption to the ceremonial aspects of the day.

The public should be able to take comfort in the continuity that Charles’ appearance represents, said Robert Hazell, professor of government and constitution at University College London.

“Yes, we are indeed preparing for a transition,” he told The Associated Press. “The Queen is in her mid-90s. She won’t live forever. We are approaching the last years of her reign, and during these last years, if she is no longer able to make public appearances, Prince Charles will be able to supply her.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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