Boris vows to ‘turbo-charge the Covid recovery’ in Queen’s Speech for ‘Blue Wall’

Boris Johnson vowed to ‘turbo-charge the Covid recovery’ today as he unveiled a Queen’s Speech for the ‘Blue Wall’ with moves to boost jobs, crack down on illegal immigration, and curb ‘woke’ culture.  

The PM warned it is not enough to go back to pre-pandemic ways as the monarch laid out the package of legislation for the next parliamentary session.

In a state occasion stripped of most of the usual pomp and ceremony, the Queen – in her first major duty since the death of Prince Philip – said the country should be ‘stronger, healthier and more prosperous than before’.  

In an introduction to the new parliamentary programme, Mr Johnson said it is time to ‘build back better’ – hailing a huge drive to increase skills and ‘level up’ in areas that have fallen behind. The Tories made huge gains in many of those places in local elections last week, and are hoping to turn the screw on crisis-hit Keir Starmer.

There will also be action to reform the asylum system and crack down on illegal immigration, as well as moves to tackle ‘cancel culture’ at universities, and an overhaul of the planning system to make building homes ‘simpler and faster’. 

But the government is already facing criticism after the speech included just nine words about social care provision – something Mr Johnson has promised to fix – and no Bill among the 30 or so slated.

And there is set to be a major backlash after it was confirmed ministers are pushing ahead with ‘nanny state’ proposals for a total ban on online junk food advertising. 

Mr Johnson will face off against Sir Keir in the Commons this afternoon since the extraordinary election results that sent Labour into a tailspin. Rumours have been sweeping Westminster that he now plans to call an early election in 2023 – with the PM set to take back control over the date for polls.  

Among the key points from the speech: 

  • A ‘lifetime skills guarantee’ will be enshrined in law to enable anyone to upgrade their qualifications, regardless of their background; 
  • An immigration overhaul will block asylum for people who have travelled through ‘safe’ countries such as France and Belgium;
  • A total ban on online junk food ads will go ahead despite claims ministers were trying to kill off the ‘half-baked’ idea; 
  • The PM will take back control of the timing of elections and could shorten the length of campaigns, with a row over proposals to require ID for people to vote;
  • People denied a platform by universities could seek compensation in the courts under government plans to tackle ‘cancel culture’;
  • The Government is to strengthen Britain’s ‘archaic’ counter-espionage laws amid growing concern about the security threat from foreign spies operating in the UK; 







The Queen has unveiled the new legislative programme in her first major engagement since the death of Prince Philip

In a state occasion stripped of most of the usual pomp and ceremony, the Queen – in her first major duty since the death of Prince Philip – said the country should be ‘stronger, healthier and more prosperous than before’

Boris Johnson (pictured walking through the Central Lobby today) has vowed to inject ‘rocket fuel’ into his pledge to level up Britain, with the introduction of new laws to boost education opportunities for those who have not been to university. There was none of the usual awkward chat between politicians as they filed through from the Commons to the Lords to see the speech today

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were accompanying the Queen as she carried out her duties today. The crown was brought in ready for the Queen to deliver her speech opening the new session of Parliament

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were accompanying the Queen as she carried out her duties today. The crown was brought in ready for the Queen to deliver her speech opening the new session of Parliament

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were accompanying the Queen as she carried out her duties today. The crown was brought in ready for the Queen to deliver her speech opening the new session of Parliament

Charles's presence at her side this year, so soon after the death of Philip aged 99 on April 9, will be seen as a sign of things to come at future royal engagements. The Queen wore what royal officials described as 'day dress' - a coat and hat - instead of her ceremonial robes or crown and travelled by car from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster, rather than by coach

Charles's presence at her side this year, so soon after the death of Philip aged 99 on April 9, will be seen as a sign of things to come at future royal engagements. The Queen wore what royal officials described as 'day dress' - a coat and hat - instead of her ceremonial robes or crown and travelled by car from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster, rather than by coach

Charles’s presence at her side this year, so soon after the death of Philip aged 99 on April 9, will be seen as a sign of things to come at future royal engagements. The Queen wore what royal officials described as ‘day dress’ – a coat and hat – instead of her ceremonial robes or crown and travelled by car from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster, rather than by coach 








The 27 Bills in Boris’s new government programme 

Skills and Post-16 Education Bill

Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill 

Planning Bill 

High Speed Rail (Crewe – Manchester) Bill 

Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill 

Draft Downstream Oil Resilience Bill 

National Insurance Contributions Bill 

Subsidy Control Bill 

Procurement Bill 

Professional Qualifications Bill 

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 

Draft Victims Bill 

Draft Online Safety Bill 

Counter-State Threats Bill 

Telecommunications (Security) Bill 

Armed Forces Bill 

Building Safety Bill 

Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Bill 

Dormant Assets Bill 

Charities Bill 

Public Service Pensions and Judicial Offices Bill 

Environment Bill 

Electoral Integrity Bill 

Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill 

Judicial Review Bill 

Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill 

Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concern) Bill 

The Government also promised a ‘levelling-up White Paper’

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A range of measures double down on the agenda that helped the Tories storm more of Labour’s former heartlands in the Midlands and the North last week. 

Others include reforms to state aid to make it easier for the Government to subsidise industries facing unfair competition, new light-touch freeports and a shake-up of the planning regime to accelerate the rollout of new housing and infrastructure.

In his introduction to the legislative platform, Mr Johnson said: ‘Even before COVID-19, there were millions across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who wanted a new approach. 

‘They wanted better funded public services, a chance to own their own home, jobs and apprenticeships in their towns, investment in better transport links and local infrastructure. A brighter future for their families, neighbours, high streets and communities.

‘So as our vaccination programme helps release us from lockdown, we cannot simply return to the way things were. Now as pubs, shops and restaurants are reopening, and we are seeing our friends and family – our mission must be to build back better than before.’

Mr Johnson – who confirmed last night that England is pushing ahead with coronavirus lockdown relaxations from May 17 – said the government will ‘back the amazing work of our NHS in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland’.

Trying to quell the burgeoning row over social care, he said: ‘Later in the year we will bring forward proposals to reform adult social care so that every person receives the dignity and security they deserve.

‘As the United Kingdom gets back on its feet, we will turbo-charge our economic recovery in every part of our country, increasing and spreading opportunity.’

Addressing Parliament from the throne in the House of Lords, the Queen said: ‘My Government will level up opportunities across all parts of the United Kingdom, supporting jobs, businesses and economic growth, and addressing the impact of the pandemic on public services.

‘My Government will protect the health of the nation, continuing the vaccination programme and providing additional funding to support the NHS.’

The House of Lords was far less crowded than usual today with coronavirus social distancing rules in force

The House of Lords was far less crowded than usual today with coronavirus social distancing rules in force

The House of Lords was far less crowded than usual today with coronavirus social distancing rules in force

Home Secretary, Priti Patel processes through the Central Lobby with other MPs on their way from the House of Lords after listening to the Queen's Speech during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords

Home Secretary, Priti Patel processes through the Central Lobby with other MPs on their way from the House of Lords after listening to the Queen's Speech during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords

Home Secretary, Priti Patel processes through the Central Lobby with other MPs on their way from the House of Lords after listening to the Queen’s Speech during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords

Addressing Parliament from the throne in the House of Lords, the Queen said: 'My Government will level up opportunities across all parts of the United Kingdom, supporting jobs, businesses and economic growth, and addressing the impact of the pandemic on public services

Addressing Parliament from the throne in the House of Lords, the Queen said: 'My Government will level up opportunities across all parts of the United Kingdom, supporting jobs, businesses and economic growth, and addressing the impact of the pandemic on public services

Addressing Parliament from the throne in the House of Lords, the Queen said: ‘My Government will level up opportunities across all parts of the United Kingdom, supporting jobs, businesses and economic growth, and addressing the impact of the pandemic on public services

The Queen was in day dress for the occasion of the reopening of Parliament today, which has been scaled back

The Queen was in day dress for the occasion of the reopening of Parliament today, which has been scaled back

The Queen was in day dress for the occasion of the reopening of Parliament today, which has been scaled back

Where is social care plan? Just nine words devoted to key issue in Queen’s Speech 

Downing Street set itself on a collision course with social care reform campaigners today after the key issue warranted just nine words in the Queen’s Speech.

Senior Tories including former health secretary Jeremy Hunt and deputy prime minister Damian Green warned today that ongoing delays over making sweeping changes to the system were causing ‘incredible worry’ and ‘frustration’.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock had tried to reassure the public that change was coming as he insisted the Government was ‘committed’ to reforms the Tories promised in their 2019 election manifesto.

But the Queen’s Speech today contained just a single sentence on the subject, with the monarch noting: ‘Proposals on social care reform will be brought forward.’ 

Care groups, charities and politicians have been long calling for a plan to reform and ‘fix’ the sector, which the Prime Minister promised in his first speech after being elected in July 2019. 

Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer

Matt Hancock

Matt Hancock

Mr Johnson is trying to turn the screw on Keir Starmer (left) after local elections, but in interviews this morning Matt Hancock (right) had to fend off questions about the lack of action on social care

The final preparations have been made including the 'ceremonial search' of Parliament to help keep the Queen safe

The final preparations have been made including the 'ceremonial search' of Parliament to help keep the Queen safe

The final preparations have been made including the ‘ceremonial search’ of Parliament to help keep the Queen safe

But the PM and Chancellor Rishi Sunak are said to be at war over how to pay for it. 

Mr Johnson is said to back plans set out a decade ago by Sir Andrew Dilnot to cap costs at between £25,000 and £50,000, with the taxpayer covering the rest.

His report also recommended lifting the means-tested threshold for state support from £23,250 to £100,000.

But the Treasury is said to be resisting, saying the cost to the public finances would be huge in the wake of the Covid pandemic. 

Mr Hunt said he hoped a cap will be announced when the Government sets out its legislative agenda, calling the prospect of catastrophic care costs ‘an incredible worry for people’.

Ministers promise ‘lifetime skills guarantee’ to get people into well-paid jobs after hammer blow from coronavirus crisis 

Every adult will be given access to a flexible loan to pay for higher-level education under plans announced today by Boris Johnson as part of a new ‘Lifetime Skills Guarantee’. 

Mr Johnson said new education laws set out in the Queen’s Speech will provide ‘rocket fuel’ to the nation’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis. 

The PM hopes the guarantee will enable people to gain the skills they need to secure well-paid jobs and to access training throughout the course of their lives.

The so-called Lifelong Loan Entitlement to pay for education and training at university or college will be available to people at any point. 

It will provide flexible access to the equivalent of up to four years’ worth of student loans. 

It is part of a wider effort by the Government to ‘remove the bias against technical education’. 

Boris Johnson said new education laws set out in the Queen's Speech will provide 'rocket fuel' to the nation's recovery from the coronavirus crisis. The PM is pictured walking past a Job Centre in Truro, Cornwall on April 7 this year

Boris Johnson said new education laws set out in the Queen's Speech will provide 'rocket fuel' to the nation's recovery from the coronavirus crisis. The PM is pictured walking past a Job Centre in Truro, Cornwall on April 7 this year

Boris Johnson said new education laws set out in the Queen’s Speech will provide ‘rocket fuel’ to the nation’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis. The PM is pictured walking past a Job Centre in Truro, Cornwall on April 7 this year 

Only 10 per cent of adults aged 20-45 hold a higher technical qualification as their highest qualification compared to 20 per cent in Germany and 34 per cent in Canada. 

Mr Johnson said: ‘These new laws are the rocket fuel that we need to level up this country and ensure equal opportunities for all. 

‘We know that having the right skills and training is the route to better, well-paid jobs.

‘I’m revolutionising the system so we can move past the outdated notion that there is only one route up the career ladder, and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to retrain or upskill at any point in their lives.’

The Government’s plans will also see employers handed a statutory role in planning publicly-funded training programmes with education providers through a so-called ‘Skills Accelerator’ scheme.   

Meanwhile, the Education Secretary will be given more powers to intervene in failing colleges. 

Tory war on ‘cancel culture’: People denied a platform by universities will be able to seek compensation in the courts 

The Conservatives opened a new front in their war on ‘cancel culture’ today, unveiling a new law forcing universities to protect freedom of speech.

The Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill will aim to end the so-called ‘no platforming’ of speakers and academics on campuses.

Regulator the Office for Students will get the power to fine institutions and student unions for breaching new duties designed to foster ‘a culture of open and robust intellectual debate’.

People who believe their freedom of speech has been impinged will also get the power to go to court to seek financial compensation. 

Universities have been dogged in the past few years by campaigns to block appearances from figures seen as controversial by some students and staff.

Germaine Greer

Germaine Greer

Amber Rudd

Amber Rudd

Universities have been dogged in the past few years by campaigns to block appearances from figures seen as controversial by some students and staff, including Germaine Greer (left) and Amber Rudd (right)

They range from far-right figures to the legendary feminist campaigner Germaine Greer, who has been targeted by the pro-trans lobby over her views on people who change gender.

The bill will ensure ‘freedom of speech can thrive for all staff, students and visiting speakers’, and ensure ‘that academic staff feel safe to question and test received wisdom and put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions, without being at risk of losing their jobs, privileges or promotion’.

Giving the showpiece speech in the House of Lords today, the monarch said that the new law would ‘protect freedom of speech’.

Other figures who have been no-platformed include the former home secretary Amber Rudd. 

Boris Johnson to take back power to call general elections amid rampant speculation he will call early ballot in 2023 to destroy crisis-hit Labour 

Boris Johnson will give prime ministers full control over when to call a general election today amid speculation he is planning to go to the country in 2023 to try to destroy Labour.

The Queen’s Speech today set out plans to replace the hated Fixed-term Parliaments Act which limits the ability of ministers to alter the five-year electoral cycle. 

It was widely criticised for leading to constitutional chaos before the December 2019 election because Boris Johnson’s attempts to call a fresh election earlier were blocked by the opposition and his lack of a majority.

At the State opening of Parliament today the Queen confirmed there would be a Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill.

‘My Government will strengthen and renew democracy and the constitution,’ she said.

‘Legislation will be introduced to ensure the integrity of elections, protect freedom of speech and restore the balance of power between the executive, legislature and the courts

The Government said the plans being unveiled would allow the PM ‘to decide to put the power back in the hands of the public during critical moments for the country’ and prevent ‘stalemates in Parliament from paralysing democracy, as happened in the last Parliament’.

There is also speculation that the new bill will also slash the campaigning time ahead of general elections to just a month.

Ministers are facing a backlash over plans to make it compulsory for voters to prove their identity at the polling station.

Former Tory cabinet minister David Davis said it was an ‘illiberal solution for a non-existent problem’. 

At a Downing Street briefing last night Mr Johnson dismissed the criticism as ‘complete nonsense’, saying it was ‘not unreasonable’ to ask people to show ID to help cut voter fraud. 

Boris’s nanny state? Ban on online junk food ads WILL go ahead despite claims ministers were trying to kill off ‘half-baked’ idea 

Boris Johnson is set to go ahead with plans for a total ban on online junk food ads despite industry experts branding it ‘not even half-baked’. 

The Queen’s Speech includes legislation to impose the restrictions, along with a block on TV ads before the 9pm watershed and ending ‘BOGOF’ deals for unhealthy foods. 

The proposals were put out to consultation before Christmas, but faced opposition from senior Tories and the industry. Critics said the online ads move was ‘insane’ after research suggested it might only shave a couple of calories a day off children’s intake. 

There have been claims the restriction could affect avocados, hummus and Marmite – although officials insist it would be targeted at foods high in sugar, salt, fat or calories. 

According to the new legislative plan the government ‘will restrict the promotions on high fat, salt and sugar food and drinks in retailers from April 2022’. 

The Health and Care Bill will also ‘include measures to ban junk food adverts pre-9pm watershed on TV and for a total ban online’.

Boris Johnson was once a vocal opponent of state meddling in eating and drinking habits, speaking out against efforts by Jamie Oliver to reform school meals. 

Boris Johnson (pictured running this week) was once a vocal opponent of state meddling in eating and drinking habits, speaking out against efforts by Jamie Oliver to reform school meals

Boris Johnson (pictured running this week) was once a vocal opponent of state meddling in eating and drinking habits, speaking out against efforts by Jamie Oliver to reform school meals

Boris Johnson (pictured running this week) was once a vocal opponent of state meddling in eating and drinking habits, speaking out against efforts by Jamie Oliver to reform school meals

Move to strengthen ‘archaic’ spying laws amid alarm over growing threat from Russia and China  

The Government is to strengthen Britain’s ‘archaic’ counter-espionage laws amid growing concern about the security threat from foreign spies operating in the UK.

The Queen’s Speech includes a commitment to a Counter-State Threats Bill which will create a US-style register of foreign agents.

Under American law, individuals working on behalf of foreign governments, officials or political parties are required to register with the Department of Justice and file reports about their activities.

Ministers believe the scheme will help curb the activities of foreign espionage agents and other foreign interference in the UK.

The move comes amid widespread concern about the activities of Russian spies in the wake of the Salisbury nerve agent attack on former agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in 2018.

A report last year by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) accused ministers of having taken their ‘eye off the ball’ when it came to the Kremlin’s activities.

At the same time there has been concern about intellectual property theft by Chinese agents stealing valuable research from UK universities.

In evidence to the ISC, the then director general of MI5, Andrew Parker, said the creation of a register of foreign agents would give the security services the legal means to go after undeclared operatives, even if they had not committed any other offence.

At the same time the Government is to overhaul the Official Secrets Acts – which date back to 1911 and have failed to keep pace with modern threats – as well as considering if the laws on treason need updating.

A Telecommunications (Security) Bill will give ministers new powers to impose limits on the involvement of ‘high risk’ suppliers in the UK’s telecoms network.

It follows a commitment by the Government to remove all equipment supplied by the Chinese technology giant Huawei from the 5G network by the end of 2027.

Ministers had initially proposed allowing the firm a limited role, but drew back in the face of opposition from the United States and some Tory MPs concerned about the security implications.

The legislation will impose a new legal duty on tech firms to improve the security of the network with fines of up to 10% of turnover or £100,000 a day for failing to meet the required standards.

In other moves, the Government is promising to bring forward legislation to bar public bodies from imposing boycott, divestment or sanctions campaigns against foreign countries.

Ministers say they are concerned that such campaigns aimed at Israel may ‘legitimise anti-Semitism’.

The speech commits the Government to pursuing the policies set out in the Integrated Review of foreign and defence policy – including tackling climate change and a policy ’tilt’ to the Indo-Pacific region.

The Government said that it will restore international aid spending – cut due to the ‘seismic impact’ of the coronavirus pandemic – to its pre-crisis level of 0.7 per cent of national income ‘when the fiscal situation allows’.

Queen performs her first public duty since Philip’s death as she heads to State Opening of Parliament in a car instead of carriage and is supported by Charles at scaled-back ceremony 

The Queen today carried out her first major public ceremonial duty since the death of her husband Prince Philip a month ago.

Her Majesty arrived at the Houses of Parliament this morning for a scaled-back, socially-distanced State Opening where she will be supported by Prince Charles and will not wear the two-pound Imperial State crown. 

Charles’s presence at her side this year, so soon after the death of Philip aged 99 on April 9, will be seen as a sign of things to come at future royal engagements.

The Queen wore what royal officials described as ‘day dress’ – a coat and hat – instead of her ceremonial robes or crown and travelled by car from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster, rather than by coach. 

She was accompanied by a lady-in-waiting and had earlier been driven from Windsor Castle.

The monarch’s Imperial State Crown will, as in recent years, be carried separately and placed on a table in the House of Lords when she gives her keynote speech, outlining the government’s plans for the year.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will use the speech to heap pressure on stricken Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer with a legislative agenda aiming to ‘level up’ jobs and investment in former Labour heartlands.

The PM will try to cement his new ‘Blue Wall’ vowing people will no longer have to move to London for decent work, and boosting education opportunities for those who have not been to university.

The centrepiece of the ceremony, the Crown Jewels which weigh two pounds and eight ounces, are now too heavy for the 95-year-old Queen to wear at what will be a pared-down ‘Covid-appropriate’ event. 

Elizabeth II, the nation’s longest reigning sovereign, last wore the crown – which is made of more than 3,000 gemstones and weighs two pounds and 13 ounces – for the 2016 state opening. 

The Queen has formally opened each new session of Parliament on all but two occasions during her 69-year reign – in 1959 and 1963, when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.

The decision to operate what is known as a ‘reduced ceremonial State Opening’ is seen as a sensible option given the pandemic and restrictions still being in place.  

The Queen leaves Windsor Castle on her way to Buckingham Palace in London before the State Opening Of Parliament today

The Queen leaves Windsor Castle on her way to Buckingham Palace in London before the State Opening Of Parliament today

The Queen leaves Windsor Castle on her way to Buckingham Palace in London before the State Opening Of Parliament today

Her Majesty is accompanied by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at the State Opening this morning

Her Majesty is accompanied by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at the State Opening this morning

Her Majesty is accompanied by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at the State Opening this morning

Prince Charles arrives for the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster this morning

Prince Charles arrives for the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster this morning

Prince Charles arrives for the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster this morning

The Imperial State Crown is pictured as it leaves Buckingham Palace ahead of the State Opening of Parliament today

The Imperial State Crown is pictured as it leaves Buckingham Palace ahead of the State Opening of Parliament today

The Imperial State Crown is pictured as it leaves Buckingham Palace ahead of the State Opening of Parliament today

Royal cars arriving for the State Opening of Parliament in Westminster this morning with a police escort

Royal cars arriving for the State Opening of Parliament in Westminster this morning with a police escort

Royal cars arriving for the State Opening of Parliament in Westminster this morning with a police escort








The Imperial State Crown arrives for the State Opening of Parliament at the Houses of Parliament in London this morning

The Imperial State Crown arrives for the State Opening of Parliament at the Houses of Parliament in London this morning

The Imperial State Crown arrives for the State Opening of Parliament at the Houses of Parliament in London this morning

Royal cars are seen leaving Buckingham Palace for the State Opening Of Parliament in London this morning

Royal cars are seen leaving Buckingham Palace for the State Opening Of Parliament in London this morning

Royal cars are seen leaving Buckingham Palace for the State Opening Of Parliament in London this morning

The Imperial State Crown is taken from Buckingham Palace to the House of Lords for the State Opening of Parliament today

The Imperial State Crown is taken from Buckingham Palace to the House of Lords for the State Opening of Parliament today

The Imperial State Crown is taken from Buckingham Palace to the House of Lords for the State Opening of Parliament today

The Queen's Imperial State Crown is, as in recent years, being carried separately and placed on a table in the House of Lords

The Queen's Imperial State Crown is, as in recent years, being carried separately and placed on a table in the House of Lords

The Queen’s Imperial State Crown is, as in recent years, being carried separately and placed on a table in the House of Lords

The Queen travels down The Mall from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament for the State Opening today

The Queen travels down The Mall from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament for the State Opening today

The Queen travels down The Mall from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament for the State Opening today

Masked Yeoman warders march along the Royal Gallery in the Houses of Parliament to start the ceremonial search today

Masked Yeoman warders march along the Royal Gallery in the Houses of Parliament to start the ceremonial search today

Masked Yeoman warders march along the Royal Gallery in the Houses of Parliament to start the ceremonial search today

Members of the House of Lords wearing their robes and masks talk with each other as they wait to enter their chamber today

Members of the House of Lords wearing their robes and masks talk with each other as they wait to enter their chamber today

Members of the House of Lords wearing their robes and masks talk with each other as they wait to enter their chamber today

Masked Yeoman warders march along the Royal Gallery to start the ceremonial search today which is the opening event

Masked Yeoman warders march along the Royal Gallery to start the ceremonial search today which is the opening event

Masked Yeoman warders march along the Royal Gallery to start the ceremonial search today which is the opening event

Masked Yeoman warders take up their positions in front of the statue of Queen Victoria at the Houses of Parliament today

Masked Yeoman warders take up their positions in front of the statue of Queen Victoria at the Houses of Parliament today

Masked Yeoman warders take up their positions in front of the statue of Queen Victoria at the Houses of Parliament today

Yeoman warders march into the Prince's Chamber during the reduced ceremonial search at Parliament today

Yeoman warders march into the Prince's Chamber during the reduced ceremonial search at Parliament today

Yeoman warders march into the Prince’s Chamber during the reduced ceremonial search at Parliament today

Masked Yeoman warders take up their positions in front of the statue to Queen Victoria outside the House of Lords today

Masked Yeoman warders take up their positions in front of the statue to Queen Victoria outside the House of Lords today

Masked Yeoman warders take up their positions in front of the statue to Queen Victoria outside the House of Lords today

Yeoman warders arrive in the Prince's Chamber during the reduced ceremonial search at Parliament today

Yeoman warders arrive in the Prince's Chamber during the reduced ceremonial search at Parliament today

Yeoman warders arrive in the Prince’s Chamber during the reduced ceremonial search at Parliament today

A parliamentary official walks past a cleaner in the Central Lobby before the State Opening of Parliament today

A parliamentary official walks past a cleaner in the Central Lobby before the State Opening of Parliament today

A parliamentary official walks past a cleaner in the Central Lobby before the State Opening of Parliament today

Officials are also keen not to encourage crowds – and the scaled-back ceremony is because of the Covid-19 crisis, rather than the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.

Her Majesty will be accompanied by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. Charles has previously accompanied the Queen, as has Camilla.  

Tradition involving Black Rod will still take place 

The State Opening of Parliament is usually the most colourful event of the parliamentary year and is steeped in tradition and customs dating back to the 16th century.

The current ceremony, which marks the formal start of the parliamentary year, dates from the opening of the rebuilt Palace of Westminster in 1852 after the fire of 1834. The Queen’s Speech presents the Government’s agenda, outlining proposed policies and legislation.

It is also the only regular meeting involving the three constituent parts of Parliament – the Sovereign, the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

The State Opening, which happens on the first day of a new parliamentary session or shortly after a general election, begins with the Queen’s procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster.

The Queen is normally escorted by the Household Cavalry before arriving at the Sovereign’s Entrance and proceeding to the Robing Room. She then leads the Royal Procession through the Royal Gallery to the chamber of the House of Lords.

An ancient tradition which will still take place is the one involving the House of Lords official, Black Rod.

Sarah Clarke, Lady Usher of the Black Rod, will see the doors to the Commons shut in her face as she arrives to summon MPs. She has to strike the door three times before it is opened. 

It is a practice that dates back to the Civil War and is said to symbolise the Commons’ independence from the monarchy.

Members of the House of Commons then follow Black Rod and the Commons Speaker to the Lords chamber, standing at the opposite end to the Throne, known as the Bar of the House, to listen to the speech.

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Another amendment for the ceremony today is that the Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland will not hand the speech directly to the Queen as is usually the custom, but place it on a table instead. 

Other changes include no military street liners or lining of the Sovereign’s staircase and no military band nor Guard of Honour outside the Palace of Westminster or as part of the procession from Buckingham Palace.

There will be no heralds in attendance, only two Yeomen and Gentlemen at Arms, just one bishop representing the group of 26, and only the Lord Chief Justice and the Head of the Supreme Court representing the Judges.

But one ancient tradition which will still take place is the one involving the House of Lords official, Black Rod. 

Sarah Clarke, Lady Usher of the Black Rod, will see the doors to the Commons shut in her face as she arrives to summon MPs.

She has to strike the door three times before it is opened. It is a practice that dates back to the Civil War and is said to symbolise the Commons’ independence from the monarchy.

Members of the Royal Family are expected to rally round the elderly monarch even more in the coming months and years following the loss of her husband.

Charles has been at his mother’s side for the last three state openings – in December 2019, October 2019 and in June 2017.

He stepped in for his father Philip in 2017 after the duke fell ill with an infection, two months before he retired from public duties.

It is the first time the Queen has conducted an engagement outside of Windsor Castle since her husband died – and only the second time she has been at Buckingham Palace since she retreated to Windsor in March last year during the first lockdown.

She briefly visited when she travelled to London to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey last November.

Philip, the nation’s longest reigning consort, spent decades accompanying the monarch to the grand occasion at Parliament, sitting on an ornate golden throne at his wife’s side. 

The Queen has been continuing with her work as sovereign at Windsor Castle as she mourns the loss of her beloved husband of 73 years.

The Queen marks the beginning of the parliamentary session by delivering the Queen’s Speech, which sets out the Government’s legislative plans.

The State Opening of Parliament is usually the most colourful event of the parliamentary year and is steeped in tradition and customs dating back centuries.

Prime Minster Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street for the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster today

Prime Minster Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street for the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster today

Prime Minster Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street for the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster today

This year the State Opening of Parliament has been reduced in numbers on account of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic

This year the State Opening of Parliament has been reduced in numbers on account of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic

This year the State Opening of Parliament has been reduced in numbers on account of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic

Security officers keeps watch before the State Opening of Parliament by the Queen at the Palace of Westminster today

Security officers keeps watch before the State Opening of Parliament by the Queen at the Palace of Westminster today

Security officers keeps watch before the State Opening of Parliament by the Queen at the Palace of Westminster today

Masked Yeoman warders march along the Royal Gallery in the Houses of Parliament to start the ceremonial search today

Masked Yeoman warders march along the Royal Gallery in the Houses of Parliament to start the ceremonial search today

Masked Yeoman warders march along the Royal Gallery in the Houses of Parliament to start the ceremonial search today

People in the Central Lobby before the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster today

People in the Central Lobby before the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster today

People in the Central Lobby before the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster today

Scenes in the Central Lobby before the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords this morning

Scenes in the Central Lobby before the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords this morning

Scenes in the Central Lobby before the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords this morning

The State Opening of Parliament takes place at the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London today

The State Opening of Parliament takes place at the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London today

The State Opening of Parliament takes place at the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London today

Police officers stand guard before the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster this morning

Police officers stand guard before the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster this morning

Police officers stand guard before the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster this morning

People in the Central Lobby before the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords this morning

People in the Central Lobby before the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords this morning

People in the Central Lobby before the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords this morning

People in the Central Lobby before the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords this morning

People in the Central Lobby before the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords this morning

People in the Central Lobby before the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords this morning

Police officers stand guard along The Mall before the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster today

Police officers stand guard along The Mall before the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster today

Police officers stand guard along The Mall before the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster today

2019: Queen Elizabeth II sits next to Prince Charles at the State Opening of the Houses of Parliament in October 2019

2019: Queen Elizabeth II sits next to Prince Charles at the State Opening of the Houses of Parliament in October 2019

2019: Queen Elizabeth II sits next to Prince Charles at the State Opening of the Houses of Parliament in October 2019

2019: The Queen and the Prince of Wales during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords in October 2019

2019: The Queen and the Prince of Wales during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords in October 2019

2019: The Queen and the Prince of Wales during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords in October 2019

2019: Queen Elizabeth II travels by carriage along The Mall ahead of the State Opening of Parliament in October 2019

2019: Queen Elizabeth II travels by carriage along The Mall ahead of the State Opening of Parliament in October 2019

2019: Queen Elizabeth II travels by carriage along The Mall ahead of the State Opening of Parliament in October 2019

Philip spent decades accompanying the Queen to the occasion, sitting on an golden throne at his wife's side (above, in 2016)

Philip spent decades accompanying the Queen to the occasion, sitting on an golden throne at his wife's side (above, in 2016)

Philip spent decades accompanying the Queen to the occasion, sitting on an golden throne at his wife’s side (above, in 2016)

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the State Opening of Parliament ceremony in October 1967

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the State Opening of Parliament ceremony in October 1967

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the State Opening of Parliament ceremony in October 1967

The Queen will not wear the heavy Imperial State Crown which she last wore at the 2016 opening. This will be carried on a cushion and placed on a table as it was in 2019 (pictured)

The Queen will not wear the heavy Imperial State Crown which she last wore at the 2016 opening. This will be carried on a cushion and placed on a table as it was in 2019 (pictured)

The Queen will not wear the heavy Imperial State Crown which she last wore at the 2016 opening. This will be carried on a cushion and placed on a table as it was in 2019 (pictured)

But because of the pandemic, the pomp and ceremony has been reduced in 2021 to prevent any spread of coronavirus.

  • 11.20am: Arrival of the Queen
  • 11.27am: Royal Procession
  • 11.30am: Queen is seated on the Throne
  • 11.30am: Queen’s Speech (10 mins)
  • 2.30pm: Debate on the Queen’s Speech
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MPs and members of the House of Lords will have to wear masks throughout unless they are exempt, and everyone present will have to take a Covid test beforehand and only be allowed to attend if they have a negative result.

Significantly fewer politicians and peers will be there compared with previous years and no diplomatic or non-parliamentary guests have been invited, with just 108 people attending, including the Queen, rather than up to 600 as is the norm.

There will 74 people in the chamber, including the monarch, Charles, Camilla, the Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and leader of the Opposition Sir Keir Starmer, representatives from the House of Lords and House of Commons and those involved in the ceremonial procession.

There will also be 17 members of the Lords and 17 MPs in the Royal Gallery.

Discussions took place with the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England to ensure the event was Covid-secure, with limited attendance, social distancing, masks, good hand hygiene and Covid testing incorporated into the proceedings. 

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