“Historic moment” in the United Kingdom: Prince Charles delivered the traditional Speech from the Throne in parliament on Tuesday, in place of his mother Elizabeth II, the Queen having given up on the advice of her doctors.
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Bringing a new sign of the transition underway for the British monarchy under the effect of the health problems of the nonagenarian sovereign, it was Prince Charles who arrived in parliament while the anthem rang out “God Save the Queen“.
The 73-year-old heir to the crown, in a decorated uniform, then read, on behalf of the Queen, the speech setting out the government’s program at the opening of the parliamentary session.
He sat on the throne reserved for the consort, symbolically smaller than that of the monarch.
At his side was his wife Camilla, 74, as well as his eldest son, Prince William, 39, who was present for the first time, further proof of a change of generations taking place.
The crown was placed on a cushion.
It was only the third time in 70 years of reign that the head of state, now 96, had missed this solemn appointment of British democracy. Pregnant, she had been absent in 1959 and 1963.
It was also the first time that the Prince of Wales, who has already represented her abroad for several years and is taking a growing place, replaced her for the speech.
Photo archives, AFP
Queen Elizabeth II
The Queen had long hoped to attend, until Buckingham Palace announced on Monday night that she had “reluctantly decided not to take part in the Speech from the Throne” due to her “episodic mobility issues”.
Signs for the DailyMailthat the Queen “is still really in charge”: “But make no mistake, this is a historic moment for the Crown.”
His absence revives questions about his participation, in early June, in the celebrations of the platinum jubilee to mark his 70 years of reign.
Last week, the Queen warned that she would not be attending the garden parties royals this summer at Buckingham Palace.
Her most recent public appearance was at the March 29 memorial service for her late husband, Prince Philip, who died aged 99 last year.
On the political level, this speech marks the will, for Boris Johnson, to revive, a few days after heavy setbacks in the local elections.
Triumphantly coming to power in July 2019, the conservative leader has seen his popularity plummet in recent months, against a backdrop of the purchasing power crisis, criticism of his handling of the pandemic and the “partygate” scandal which earned him a fine, a first for a head of government in office.
The speech opened with a promise to ‘strengthen the economy and help help the cost of living’ in the face of soaring prices hitting households; in fact, according to a study published by the Food Foundation, millions of Britons no longer have enough to eat.
The text includes measures likely to appeal to the conservative base, in particular laws intended to reduce red tape after the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, which became fully effective last year.
The government also wants to prevent the ‘guerrilla techniques’ of groups like Extinction Rebellion, hated by its base, which demonstrated by blocking roads or public transport ‘harming hard-working people, costing taxpayers millions of public money and putting lives at risk.
To make it easier to deport foreign criminals, the government wants to change human rights legislation.
If he has managed to save his post for the moment in the context of the war in Ukraine, the bubbling 57-year-old leader will try to win back disappointed voters for the two years he has left before the next legislative elections. His speech will introduce 38 bills.
Opposition Labor leader Keir Starmer, also criticized for sharing beers and curries with a team from his party last year, added pressure on his shoulders by pledging to resign if he receives, as the prime minister, a fine for breaking anti-COVID rules.