May date set for scaled-back Queen’s Speech

Patrick Daly, PA Political Correspondent
·2-min read

A scaled-down Queen’s Speech will be held on May 11, Downing Street has confirmed.

The visit of the Queen to the Palace of Westminster, when the monarch is due to set out the Government’s legislative plans, will be reduced in terms of pomp and ceremony, officials said, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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

But Downing Street said the May event, in light of restrictions to curb infections, will involve significantly fewer MPs and peers in attendance, a reduced royal procession into the House of Lords where the speech is given from, and no diplomatic or non-parliamentary guests will be permitted.

The State Opening of Parliament was a more low-key affair following the 2019 election
The State Opening of Parliament was a more low-key affair following the 2019 election (Leon Neal/PA)

A Number 10 spokesman said: “While we are still in the middle of a pandemic this Queen’s Speech will look quite different, but it is important we take forward our plans and deliver policies to improve the lives of people across the country through a new parliamentary session.

“We are working closely with Public Health England to ensure arrangements are Covid-secure.”

The low-key Queen’s Speech is set to confirm the continuation of a number of Bills carrying over from this parliamentary year, including the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill – proposed legislation which sparked violent protests in Bristol on Sunday – the Environment Bill and the Armed Forces Bill.

The Government has already announced plans to introduce legislation to improve the building safety regulatory regime, reform the UK’s asylum system and to repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, a move that would give the Prime Minister greater flexibility to decide when elections are held.

The current session of Parliament will be prorogued ahead of the Queen’s Speech but a date for the suspension has yet to be set.

The Queen’s visit to Parliament in December 2019 was also a scaled-down affair in light of it being her second visit to announce the Government’s agenda in the space of as many months.

After the public had been treated to the full spectacle in October 2019, it was decided that, following Boris Johnson’s landslide general election win in December, the follow-up should be a more administrative event.

It saw the head of state travelling by limousine and wearing a day dress and hat rather than the Imperial State Crown and ceremonial robes.