Queen's Speech explainer

Prime Minister's Office, 10 Downing Street

May 17
09:27 2016

The Queens Speech takes place at the start of each Parliamentary session and forms the central part of the State Opening of Parliament. It sets out the governments policies and proposed legislative programme for the new parliamentary session.

Black Rod knocks on the door to the Commons
Copyright UK Parliament / Photography by Jessica Taylor.

It is given in the presence of members of both Houses, the Commons being summoned to hear the speech by an official known as Black Rod.

Who writes the speech

Although the speech is delivered by the Queen, the content of the speech is entirely drawn up by the government and approved by the Cabinet.

The Queen delivers the speech. It is written by the government and sets out its agenda for the parliamentary year
Copyright House of Lords 2015 / Photography by Roger Harris. Parliamentary copyright.

What happens after the speech is given

Following the State Opening, the governments programme is debated by both Houses. In the Commons the first motion is that the House send an address to the Queen thanking her for the speech.

The subsequent debate, which lasts several days, is a chance for MPs to speak on any matter of government.

Arrival of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at Sovereigns Entrance
Copyright House of Lords 2015 / Photography by Roger Harris. Parliamentary copyright.

What the process is

The State Opening of Parliament takes place when Parliament reassembles after a general election, and then at the start of each new Parliamentary session.

The Queen drives in state from Buckingham Palace to Westminster. The Imperial State Crown, the Sword of State and the Cap of Maintenance are transported to London by coach ahead of her. Only the monarch can call a Parliament together and no business can take place until the Queen reads her speech.

Arrival of the Imperial State Crown
Copyright House of Lords 2015 / Photography by Roger Harris.

Further information

The British Monarchy
UK Parliament
Flickr: The Queen and her Prime Ministers

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