Queen's Speech 2021: Pomp and pageantry pared back

Published

The Queen delivered her speech at the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords, in her first major public engagement since the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.

image copyrightGetty Images

The 10-minute speech outlined the government's priorities for the year ahead, highlighting 30 laws that ministers intend to pass.

The Queen, 95, said the government would "deliver a national recovery from the pandemic that makes the United Kingdom stronger, healthier and more prosperous than before".

The event is usually known for its pomp and pageantry but this year some ceremonial aspects were scaled back due to coronavirus restrictions.

image copyrightPA Media

Before the Queen arrived at Parliament, the Yeomen of the Guard, the royal bodyguards, searched the cellars of the Palace of Westminster for explosives (above and below).

The ceremonial search is a tradition that commemorates Guy Fawkes's Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

image copyrightPA Media

The Imperial State Crown was driven to Parliament ahead of the Queen's arrival.

image copyrightGetty Images
image copyrightGetty Images

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall then arrived at Parliament.

image copyrightPA Media

The Queen, in day dress and hat, travelled from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster by car rather than by carriage.

image copyrightGetty Images

Previously, the Queen was for decades accompanied by her husband, the late Prince Philip, when delivering her speech.

image copyrightSamir Hussein

The Queen arrived at the Sovereign's Entrance of Parliament and was greeted by the Earl Marshal, the Lord Great Chamberlain and the Lady Usher of the Black Rod.

She then entered the Robing Room of the House of Lords, although this year she did not put on the robe and Imperial State Crown.

The union jack was replaced with the royal standard, which flew above the Palace of Westminster to show the Queen was present.

The monarch's procession through Parliament then began.

image copyrightPA Media

The sound of trumpets filled the Royal Gallery, as the Queen walked through to the House of Lords, holding the hand of her son, the Prince of Wales.

No diplomatic or non-parliamentary guests were invited this year, with just 108 people attending due to coronavirus restrictions, rather than up to 600 as is the norm.

There were 17 members of the Lords and 17 MPs in the Royal Gallery.

Instead of the Queen wearing the heavy Imperial State Crown, it was carried on a cushion and placed on a table nearby. The monarch last wore the crown, which is made of more than 3,000 gemstones and weighs two pounds and 13 ounces, for the 2016 State Opening of Parliament.

image copyrightPA Media

The Queen then took her place on the Great Throne in the House of Lords, and gave the signal for MPs to be summoned.

image copyrightGetty Images

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer walked a couple of metres behind Prime Minister Boris Johnson as they entered the House of Lords due to social distancing requirements.

image copyrightPA Media

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall sat to the right of the Queen.

image copyrightPA Media

The Queen then delivered her speech, which had been written by ministers.

image copyrightGetty Images
image copyrightGetty Images

The speech included laws relating to the Armed Forces, borders and security, housing, education and the environment, among other topics.

image copyrightPA Media

She ended the speech with the words: "I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels."

The Queen then left the House of Lords, accompanied again by the Prince of Wales.

image copyrightPA Media

All pictures are subject to copyright.