The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Arriving in new coach, Queen Elizabeth II unveils British government's agenda in day of pomp

  • Print

LONDON - Queen Elizabeth II unveiled the British government's legislative agenda Wednesday in a ceremony that combined a sumptuous display of pomp and power with a slim slate of bills on crime, pensions and fracking.

The annual Queen's Speech is both a policy statement and an ermine-draped display of regal grandeur. It is read by the monarch but written by the government and marked the final opportunity for Prime Minister David Cameron's government to offer ideas ahead of a May 2015 election.

The 11 bills outlined in the 10-minute speech included changes to pension plans, a five-pence (8 cent) levy on supermarket plastic bags and a measure giving voters limited powers to recall wayward lawmakers.

The plans also included tougher penalties for human trafficking and a bill to safeguard Good Samaritans in the case of lawsuits stemming from actions taken in an emergency.

More contentious were moves to encourage companies to drill for gas through hydraulic fracturing — a practice that faces strong opposition from British environmentalists.

The 88-year-old monarch has delivered a speech at every opening of Parliament since the start of her reign in 1952 — except for two years when she was pregnant.

The monarch travelled from Buckingham Palace in the resplendent new Diamond Jubilee State Coach, as thousands of tourists lined the streets.

The horse-drawn coach, which was made in Australia, is lined in yellow silk and made up of pieces donated by historic sites and organizations. The seat handrails are from the Royal Yacht Britannia, while the window frames and interior panels include material from Canterbury Cathedral, 10 Downing Street, and the Antarctic bases of Capt. Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton.

Lawmakers walked from the House of Commons to the House of Lords to hear the queen read the speech — but only after slamming the door in her messenger's face to symbolize their independence from the crown.

The speech is delivered in the House of Lords — from a gilded throne — because the monarch is barred from entering the Commons.

Amid the ritual, a moment of unexpected drama arose when a page boy fainted with a thud just after the queen announced that Britain would work toward a "comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran."

Officials said later that the boy was fine.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Weather for final Fringing weekend

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A red squirrel peaks out of the shade in a tree in East Fort Garry, Sunday, September 9, 2012. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 101130-Winnipeg Free Press Columns of light reach skyward to the stars above Sanford Mb Tuesday night. The effect is produced by streetlights refracting through ice crystals suspended in the air on humid winter nights. Stand Up.....

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should Manitoba support the transport of nuclear waste through the province?

View Results

Ads by Google