The Queen proudly watched her son open Parliament on TV from her quarters in Windsor Castle today due to ongoing mobility problems but still scheduled her weekly call with Boris Johnson for this afternoon.
An emotional Prince Charles stepped in for Her Majesty at the 11th hour to read the Queen’s Speech after the 96-year-old monarch was forced to pull out for the first time in 59 years as she prioritises the Platinum Jubilee next month.
The heir to the throne, 73, gazed at his mother’s crown before he announced 38 of Boris Johnson’s Bills for the coming year including new laws to properly punish eco hooligans, capitalise on Brexit, better regulate landlords and ensure Britons can pay their soaring bills.
Today was a highly symbolic and historic moment for the British monarchy where the Prince of Wales took on his closest role yet to that of king. He had addressed the House of Lords after the monarch, 96, obeyed doctor’s orders to miss the State Opening of Parliament for the first time in 59 years.
Prince William and the Duchess of Cornwall flanked the Prince of Wales as he delivered the speech from the consort’s throne, used by his father Prince Philip for decades, in a major constitutional moment for the UK.
Poignantly a space remained next to him, where the Queen’s slightly larger missing throne would usually be located, as power continues to slowly transition from Britain’s longest reigning monarch to her son and grandson.
Charles said ministers would ‘help ease the cost-of-living for families’ with a promise to ‘level up opportunity in all parts of the country’. And in a nod to his mother’s determination to continue public events, Prince Charles’ speech said that the Queen is looking forward to attending the June celebrations marking her Platinum Jubilee.
Palace sources insisted it is business as usual for the monarch, who watched his speech on TV and will have her weekly phone audience with the Prime Minister today as usual.
It was the first time a member of the Royal Family has delivered the Queen’s Speech on her behalf, with Charles referring to ‘Her Majesty’s Government’ throughout after the words were changed just hours earlier.
He gazed at his mother’s crown before addressing the peers and MPs, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, after they were summoned to the Lords after Black Rod hammered on the door of the Commons in a ritual dating back to 1642 when King Charles I forced his way into the chamber.
The Imperial State Crown – the greatest symbol of British sovereign power and authority – was carried to Westminster ahead of the Prince of Wales in a limousine with Britain’s Crown Jeweller. It was placed on a table in front of Charles, who looked at it on a number of occasions.
Prince William, who will one day sit on the throne himself, arrived at his first ever State Opening of Parliament around five minutes before his father. The two future kings were specifically given power to jointly act on Her Majesty’s behalf so that the ceremony could go ahead.
And as her role expanded, Charles’ wife the Duchess of Cornwall was by his side throughout at her first state occasion since Her Majesty said Camilla will become queen consort on Charles’s ascension to the throne.
The speech itself lasted nine minutes – starting at 11.34am and ending at 11.43am – before the three royals left the Lords and headed back to their palaces, with a relieved-looking Charles, Camilla and William all smiling as they chatted to MPs and Parliamentary staff.
A space remained next to him, where the Queen’s missing throne is usually located, under the opulent canopy, with the monarch’s Imperial State Crown in front on a velvet cushion.
On either side of Charles were William, in a morning coat, at his first State Opening, and the Duchess of Cornwall, wearing a day dress and hat, in the Chairs of State.
Charles delivered the speech in the third person, using ‘Her Majesty’s Government’.
As he took on the head of state’s major constitutional duty for the first time, the move has been interpreted as a symbolic and significant shift in his responsibilities as a future monarch.
The prince walked through the Palace of Westminster pausing at moments to greet dignitaries.
Charles, with Camilla at his side, and William behind, walked slowly and steadily as he processed to his seat.