Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday failed to wear her crown for the Queen’s Speech for the first time in 43 years just to save Prime Minister Theresa May from losing her position after her party lost majority in recently conducted snap election.
The Queen’s Speech and State Opening of Parliament is usually a grand occasion with royal robes, a golden carriage and a heavy crown. But today’s looks very different. Queen Elizabeth II did not wear her crown for the Queen’s Speech There are a lot of reasons that might spring to mind: the heat wave, the Queen’s advancing years, the sombre mood in the country given the string of recent tragedies. But it is nothing to do with any of these things; it has been planned all along. Well, since Theresa May called a snap election at any rate.
The unexpected election meant the date for the State Opening of Parliament was set for just a few days after the grand ceremony of Trooping the Colour, which marks the Queen’s official birthday each year. Both events are huge feats of organisation, with a Sovereign’s Escort from the Household Cavalry Regiment, and the Queen’s route lined by hundreds of service personnel. And them taking place so close together meant there was not enough time for sufficient rehearsal and preparation. Instead, today’s is a simpler presentation of the ceremony – although still a fair bit grander than your trip to work or the school run and morning meeting.
The Queen is travelling by car today (which probably has better air conditioning than the traditional carriage. And for the first time since 1974 she will wear “day dress” and a hat rather than robes of state and Imperial State Crown to deliver her speech. The heavy crown will instead be carried by an officer of state.
The Sword of State and Cap of Maintenance will also be carried. Prince Philip is missing what was likely to be his final appearance at the State Opening after being admitted to hospital with an infection last night. He was also set to be dressed down, wearing a morning coat rather than full naval uniform. He is set to retire from public life in the autumn. And there was expected to be minimal fanfare for the Queen’s arrival, with no heralds present as she makes her procession to the Chamber of the House of Lords to take the throne and deliver her speech.
A scaled-back version of the ceremony was last held in March 1974, after Labour leader Harold Wilson defeated Edward Heath in a snap election. When Mrs. May called the snap election for June 8, the State Opening was originally set for Monday 19 June, meaning the cancellation of this year’s Order of the Garter service, and plans for the scaled down ceremony put in place. But the shock hung parliament result threw matters into further chaos, as Mrs. May’s need to get the DUP on board to support her minority government meant the State Opening was pushed back two days.
Although given there is still no deal, the Queen may be wishing they had gone ahead with the original date so she could fully focus on a day out at Royal Ascot today. Mrs. May’s failing to win a majority means the Queen’s Speech will be slimmed down too, with much of the Tory manifesto expected to be abandoned.