Her Majesty watching the Queen's Speech on her television set in Windsor Castle rather than delivering it in person.
This is the first time the 96-year-old has missed the event in 59 years; uneasy times for the Royal Family and the Nation.
Uneasy times for this prime minister too.
His party suffered a drubbing in the local elections, losing nearly 500 councils seats across England, Scotland and Wales.
Extrapolate those results out into a general election and he would lose his majority by some margin and most likely be out office.
And if that is the political backdrop, what about the economic one?
Sir Keir Starmer used the Queen's Speech debate in Westminster on Wednesday to warn of "stagflation", that toxic combination of inflation married with a recession, which puts the fear into policymakers because it's so difficult to tackle.
The Labour leader with one strategy only - to keep his foot on the throat of the prime minister when it comes to helping people deal with the cost of living crisis.
For Boris Johnson's part his legislative programme for the coming year had three aims.
First was to make levelling up the country and reducing regional inequalities the mainstay of the remaining two years of this parliament.
His second policy push was his insistence that he was taking steps to tackle the cost of living, mainly through measures to deregulate the economy and boost growth, while also warning the public that his government couldn't fully protect people from rising inflation.
But this Queen's Speech was about politics as well as policy.
The prime minister shaving the "barnacles off the boat" as controversial legislation dropped in order to appease a restive party and also refocus the effort on core Conservative issues: post-Brexit deregulation, cracking down on protests and migrant crossing, the British Bill of Rights.
Quietly dropped from the programme was a ban on fur and foie gras imports, and a bill to ensure the right to flexible working in law.
Overhauling the planning regime to turbo-boost new housing also dropped in the face of staunch shire resistance.
All of this is a reminder that this a prime minister who maintains a big working majority but has lost nearly all his authority with his parliamentary party after a torrid few months.
But from his party to his public, what stood out about this Queen's Speech was what was missing, concrete measures now to help people struggling with the cost of living crisis.
And the Prime Minister, who has a strong political antennae, knows it.
Pressed by the Labour leader in the House of Commons to bring forward an emergency budget, Mr Johnson hinted help was on its way.
"The cost of the pandemic has been huge," he told MPs. "And the chancellor and I will be saying more in the coming days."
When the public are hanging on this every word, such loose language can be dangerous.
Irritation from some in Whitehall for this "freelancing on his feet", the PM put back in his box by the Treasury, which was quick to announce there would be no emergency budget.
The chancellor has been consistent on this, reluctant to bring forward extra support until he has a better handle on rising energy prices later this year.
Those around him clear that additional support might be announced before August but won't kick in until the autumn.
Worryingly for the prime minister, it's not just the leader of the opposition who thinks intervention is needed now.
David Davis, the former cabinet minister, told the PM in the Commons on Wednesday that he agreed help, such as tax cuts, was needed now, not in two years' time (Mr Sunak's current plan).
"They certainly need to act quickly," said Mr Davis.
"The PM used a phrase - deploying our fiscal power. We need to deploy our fiscal firepower now. Our constituents need it."
The PM is no doubt feeling the heat, from the public and his party.
Bruising local election results and the prospect of things getting rougher still.
No emergency budget for now but the clever politics of this Queen's Speech might not be enough for the raw politics of these unprecedented times.