After more than 70 years, another King’s Speech, with Charles

Charles reading the Queen’s Speech in May 2022

NOS Newstoday, 12:27

  • Fleur Launspach

    UK and Ireland correspondent

  • Fleur Launspach

    UK and Ireland correspondent

Trumpets, ermine cloaks and a crown with 3000 gems. Today marks the British Speech from the Throne, an event with centuries-old ceremonies to solemnly open the parliamentary year.

And this year is extra special, because it is the first time since 1952 King’s Speech, with Charles III as king. His mother, Queen Elizabeth, who died last year, gave the speech no fewer than 67 times during her reign. Charles already filled in for his mother once in May last year, but then he read the Queen’s Speech for.

For the King’s Speech King Charles leaves his palace and travels to one of the two houses of the British Parliament: the House of Lords. This is the only time of the year when the head of state enters the British Parliament. Charles sits on a throne there and reads out all the government’s plans and bills, setting the priorities for the 2023/2024 parliamentary year. In terms of content, the king has no say in the plans he reads – he does this in the name of his government.

King Charles arrives in the State Coach, accompanied by members of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. He has his own special entrance: the Sovereign’s Entrance. There, in the dressing room, he will put on his ceremonial gown, a scarlet velvet train with gold embroidery. He will also put on the Imperial State Crown. That crown weighs more than a kilo and has reportedly been polished with gin by the queen.

Door slammed in the face

One of the most eccentric traditions of the day is when a messenger goes to the House of Commons to summon MPs. This is what the Black Rod does – a function named after the black, ebony staff carried during this ceremony. The position of the Black Rod has existed for 650 years and is currently held by a woman: Sarah Clarke.

The Black Rod collects the members of the House of Commons to join the House of Lords, where the monarch awaits the throne. But before the Black Rod can do this, he traditionally gets the door slammed in his face. This symbolizes an independently elected parliament and dates from the time of Charles I, who was beheaded in 1649. This tradition serves as a reminder of the power struggle that used to exist between the monarch and parliament.

Traditionally, a parliamentarian is also being held hostage today. That is the person who holds the position of Vice-Chamberlain of the Household, currently Jo Churchill. She is being ‘held captive’ at Buckingham Palace while the King is in Parliament, to ensure the monarch’s safe return.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: years Kings Speech Charles


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