What is the Queen's Speech?

  • 20 June 2017
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What is the Queen's speech?

The Queen's Speech is part of what is called the State Opening of Parliament.

This is a bit like the start of a new school year for politicians. The proper name given to this is the start of a Parliamentary session.

It's happened today in London.

But what actually is it and why is it so important?

What is the speech?

The Queen's Speech explains the government's plans for the coming year.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Here is the Queen giving her Speech in 2016

She reads it out in front of members of the House of Commons and House of Lords, and there is normally one Queen's Speech every year.

This year will be the 63rd time during the Queen's reign that she has delivered the speech.

Who writes it?

Although the speech is read out by the Queen, it is actually written by the government.

This is because it is their to-do list of what they want to achieve over the coming months.

How long is it?

It depends how much the government has on their to-do list! But normally it takes about 10 minutes.

What happens at the ceremony?

The ceremony, as it is like today, dates back to 1852.

The Queen usually rides in a grand state coach from Buckingham Palace to the House of Lords in Westminster, however this year she will be arriving by car.

Image caption This picture shows the grand coach that the Queen travels in to and from the Houses of Parliament

When the Queen enters the House of Lords, everyone there stands up. Everyone is wearing their smartest robes and finery.

The Queen usually wears a crown for the ceremony, but this year she will be wearing a hat instead.

Next, the Queen takes her place on the throne and says: "My Lords, pray be seated."

Once this has happened, the Queen's messenger called Black Rod will walk up to the door of the House of Commons, where MPs work, but it will be slammed in his face!

Image copyright PA
Image caption The name 'Black Rod' refers to the person - not the stick in his hand. Here he is knocking on the door three times

It might seem a bit rude but it's meant to show that House of Commons is independent.

Black Rod knocks on the door three times with his stick. He's then allowed to go in and asks the MPs to come to the House of Lords to listen to the Queen.

An official known as the Lord Chancellor hands the speech to the Queen, and she will read it to everyone there.

What happens after the speech is given?

After the Queen has finished her speech and the State Opening is over, the Queen returns to Buckingham Palace.

In the afternoon, the government's plans - which were explained in the speech - are debated in the House of Commons and MPs will eventually have the chance to vote on it.

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