King's Speech: What time is it - and what is Charles likely to talk about?

Everything you need to know about the King's Speech that King Charles is set to deliver on 7 November, 2023.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 10: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales looks towards the Imperial State Crown as he delivers the Queen’s Speech during the state opening of Parliament at the House of Lords on May 10, 2022 in London, England. The State Opening of Parliament formally marks the beginning of the new session of Parliament. It includes Queen's Speech, prepared for her to read from the throne, by her government outlining its plans for new laws being brought forward in the coming parliamentary year. This year the speech will be read by the Prince of Wales as HM The Queen will miss the event due to ongoing mobility issues. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Prince Charles will deliver his first King's Speech as monarch. (Getty)

King Charles will deliver his first official King's Speech as he opens the new session of parliament on Tuesday.

The speech will be delivered at the state opening of parliament and is not only a big moment for Charles – for whom it will be his first such speech as monarch – but for prime minister Rishi Sunak, who will set out his legislative agenda for the year to come.

Renowned environmentalist Charles is unlikely to be too happy about one particular part of the speech, in which he will ceremonially set out the government's plans to mandate gas and oil licensing in the North Sea.

Here is everything you need to know about the King's Speech:

What is the King's Speech?

The King’s Speech, which will begin at about 11.30am, is part of the state opening of parliament, the formal beginning of each new session of parliament.

Formally called the speech from the throne, it is a key part of the state opening of parliament ceremony, which marks the start of the parliamentary year. It is also important because it allows the government to set out its priorities and programme for the coming session, including the legislation it plans to pass.

It will be Charles’s first King’s Speech since becoming monarch, although he gave the Queen's Speech on behalf of his mother in May 2022.

Historically, the Monarch’s Speech and the vote and debates that follow it is all considered a test of whether a government has the confidence of the Commons.

The speech will be the first since Rishi Sunak became prime minister last October and will give him the chance to set out plans ahead of a general election that could take place next year.

Charles will don the Imperial State Crown, his lengthy crimson Robe of State and Admiral of the Fleet Royal Naval dress uniform, having travelled in a carriage procession from Buckingham Palace to the House of Lords in the Diamond State Coach amid great royal fanfare.

Watch: The King's Speech - what will happen?

Camilla, wearing the famous George IV State Diadem for the first time, has chosen to re-use her coronation gown, designed by Bruce Oldfield, for her first state opening as Queen.

It has been seven years since a monarch wore the Imperial State Crown at a state opening, the last time being in 2016.

Containing 2,868 diamonds, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, five rubies and 269 pearls, it weighs more than a kilo.

Charles wore the crown on his return journey to Buckingham Palace after his coronation.

Some 1,400 members of the armed forces will play a part in the proceedings in the first full military ceremony for a state opening since before COVID.

Gun salutes will be fired from Green Park and the Tower of London, with troops from the Army, RAF and Royal Navy lining the route and the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment including 124 horses providing a Sovereign’s Escort.

It is the first time a British King has opened parliament for more than 70 years, since Charles’s grandfather George VI in 1950.

How you can watch it live?

The state opening of parliament will be broadcast live on Parliament TV, and also streamed on the House of Lords Twitter, UK Parliament Twitter with BSL (British Sign Language) interpretation, plus versions with and without BSL on YouTube.

It is also likely to be live broadcast by media outlets.

Yeomen of the Guard, wearing traditional uniform, walk through the Royal Gallery before the State Opening of Parliament at the Houses of Parliament, in London, on May 10, 2022. - The 96-year-old monarch, who usually presides over the pomp-filled event and reads out her government's legislative programme from a gilded throne in the House of Lords, will skip the annual showpiece on her doctors' advice. (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY / POOL / AFP) (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The State Opening of Parliament marks the formal opening of Parliament. (Getty)

What is the state opening of parliament?

According to the government website, the state opening of parliament, is the only regular occasion when the three constituent parts of parliament – the sovereign, the House of Lords and the House of Commons – meet.

State opening happens on the first day of a new parliamentary session or shortly after a general election – this state opening on 7 November is the King’s first as monarch. The Queen presided over the state opening of parliament in person on 67 occasions during her reign.

The last state opening of parliament took place on 10 May 2022, at the start of the 2022/23 session of parliament. On that occasion, parliament was opened by Charles and his son, the then Duke of Cambridge, as counsellors of state for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Who writes the King's Speech?

The speech is written by the government and should include the laws it plans to pass.

The monarch has to be careful how the speech is delivered, to make sure there is no suggestion of any political support.

BLETCHLEY, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 2: Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during a closing press conference at the AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park on November 2, 2023 in Bletchley, England. The UK Government are hosting the AI Safety Summit bringing together international governments, leading AI companies, civil society groups and experts in research to consider the risks of AI, especially at the frontier of development, and discuss how they can be mitigated through internationally coordinated action. (Photo by Justin Tallis - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The King's Speech is expected to set out Rishi Sunak's priorities ahead of a general election next year. (Getty)

Is there a vote on the King's Speech?

After the speech is delivered, MPs reassemble in the House of Commons and debate the contents of what is known as "the Humble Address".

The debate starts with introductory speeches by two MPs, before the prime minister tries to "sell" the speech to the Commons, setting out a vision for the country.

The leader of the opposition then gets the chance to respond, before other MPs are allowed to contribute.

At the end of the debate there is a vote that is seen as symbolic.

The government rarely loses the vote - the last time it did was in January 1924, under Conservative prime minister Stanley Baldwin, who was then forced to resign.

What is Charles likely to say?

Sunak has said the King’s Speech will focus on measures to “grow the economy, to strengthen society and to keep people safe”.

A large part of the King's Speech will be taken up by the government's Criminal Justice Bill.

Offenders who commit murders with sexual or sadistic motives will spend the rest of their lives in prison under the new proposals.

Criminals will also be forced to appear in the dock in court and prisoners will be prevented from marrying.

Rapists and other serious sexual offenders will also not be let out early from prison sentences while other measures include giving police the power to enter a property without a warrant to seize stolen goods when they have reasonable proof that a specific stolen item is inside.

The speech is also expected to contain a bill to alter the leasehold system and a bill to allow licences for oil and gas projects in the North Sea to be awarded each year.

It will also contain the government's already announced plan to gradually ban smoking and appoint a regulator for English football.

Sunak added that the state opening of parliament would be “a big occasion, not least because it’s the first King’s Speech in 70-odd years”.

But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer warned that the King’s Speech would be a “manifesto for stagnation”, accusing Sunak of overseeing economic decline.

Watch: Rishi Sunak puts economy and public safety at heart of King’s Speech plans