Prince Charles will read The Queen’s Speech for the first time today with the monarch set to be absent from the State Opening of Parliament for the first time since 1963.
The Queen will miss the lavish annual ceremony for only the third time in her 70 year reign after talks with her doctors over ‘episodic mobility issues’ she has been experiencing.
After being granted permission by his mother, heir apparent the Prince of Wales will instead deliver the speech, written by the government, and which outlines their policies and laws they intend to pass during the next year.
He will be accompanied by his son Prince William who will be taking part in the ceremony for the first time.
Taking place on the first day of a new parliamentary session or shortly after a general election, the ceremony traditionally begins with The Queen’s procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster, escorted by the Household Cavalry.
Wearing the Imperial State Crown and the Robe of State, she then leads the Royal Procession through the Royal Gallery, packed with 600 guests, to the chamber of the House of Lords with members of the Commons being summoned by a House of Lords official known as Black Rod.
However, the event had to be adapted last year to ensure it followed Covid-19 guidelines.
Today the Queen’s throne in the House of Lords will be left empty whilst Charles delivers the Queen’s speech.
The cost-of-living crisis is expected to be one of the key issues, the government will announce it is intending to attempt to tackle alongside a number of others.
Here we take a look at what maybe announced during the address, and some things likely to be noteable by their absence.
What’s expected to be in the Queen’s Speech?
A Schools Bill
A new law is set to be brought forward as part of an overhaul of England’s schools. Funding for schools will be reformed under the plans and regulator Ofsted given increased powers.
Plans for a 32.5-hour school week, boosted targets for Maths and English skills and a “parent pledge” to inform mums and dads if their children are falling behind are also expected to be announced.
Whilst a compulsory registration for home-schooling to help the authorities track children who ‘fell through the cracks’ during the pandemic, and a clampdown on truancy are also likely to form part of the bill.
Higher Education Bill
A new financial scheme to help people pick up new skills will also be introduced by ministers.
As part of the Lifelong Loan Entitlement, people would have a right to borrow from the government the equivalent of four years of post-18 education – £37,000 in today’s fees – for use over their lifetime for a range of short and technical courses as well as degrees.
Privatisation of Channel 4
The government has already announced plans to privatise the public service broadcaster – sparking a huge backlash. And a bill to underpin the move in law is expected to be announced by Prince Charles during the speech.
Leveling Up and Regeneration Bill
Landlords will be forced to rent out empty shop units and local councils will be able to take over derelict buildings as part of plans aimed at breathing new life into struggling high streets.
British Bill of Rights
Upon being elected three years ago, the government promised to ‘update’ the Human Rights Act, which enshrined the European Convention on Human Rights into domestic law.
Ministers have also spoken about tearing up the old legislation and replacing it with a new British Bill of Rights
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has said the new bill would result in “less shifting of the goalposts, less elastic interpretations of human rights” and would make it easier to deport foreign criminals.
Brexit Freedom Bill
A set of bills to change laws the UK inherited from the following EU Brexit has been promised by Boris Johnson.
The Prime Minister told the Sunday Express the ‘Brexit Freedoms Bill’ will cut EU regulatory “red tape” while a Procurement Bill would help small and medium sized businesses compete for Government contracts.
What might be in the Queen’s Speech?
Changes to Northern Ireland trading arrangements
A bill giving the ministers the power to override the Northern Ireland protocol – a key part of the government’s Brexit Deal – could also be brought forward.
The protocol which sees checks on some goods arriving in Northern Irleand from Great Britian was designed to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland but is hated by the unionists some of whom are currently refusing to form a power-sharing executive in protest.
What’s not in the Queen’s Speech?
First mentioned in 2019 – this flagship legislation was set to give workers, especially those in insecure jobs, enhanced rights. Yet it is not expected to form part of the Prince of Wales’ address
A drastic overhaul of planning rules as floated by ministers last year but faced a backlash from some Conservative MPs and so has been shelved. There could be some tweaks to planning laws in the Leveling Up Bill but there will likely be no major shake-up.
Toughened animal rights’ laws including plans to ban the import of foie gras and fur have reportedly also been ‘quietly shelved’ There is uncertainty over where a crackdown on puppy smuggling and trophy hunting may make it into the speech.
A number of bills from the last parliamentary session which weren’t made into law in time will be carried over.
These include a Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill aimed at preventing curbs on free speech in universities and the long-awaited Online Safety Bill.