Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I wrote about Prime Minister’s Johnson’s counter-proposal to the Irish backstop. Tina reviewed Watching You by Lisa Jewell and My Yorkshire Great and Small by Peter Wright. For Readers Imbibing Peril, Jean gave us The Book of Ballads and Sagas by Charles Vess and others (including Neil Gaiman).
The Queen’s Speech opens a new session of Parliament after the previous one was prorogued. Prime Minister Johnson attempted to have a long period of prorogued Parliament and was thwarted by the British Supreme Court. Instead Parliament was progrogued for only three days, a more common amount of time, and the Queen’s Speech was delivered on Monday.
The Queen’s Speech announces the priorities of the government — the Prime Minister and their cabinet members. It feels a lot like a State of the Union that outlines the agenda of a presidential administration for the next year.
Since it’s 2019, BBC News put all the pomp and circumstance of the Queen’s Speech on You Tube. I know I needed a Brexit break with glittery costumes, fine horses, and arcane customs. If you do, too, enjoy these videos.
First, the crown and other symbols of state are delivered to Westminster Palace. These items are normally housed at the Tower of London and, traditionally, arrive by boat on the River Thames. Even though they were brought in a horse-drawn carriage, they were accompanied by the Queen’s Bargemaster and a Royal Waterman.
The Queen traveled in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach from Buckingham Palace to Westminster. She was accompanied by the Prince of Wales, Charles, and the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla. Here they are arriving at Parliament:
Once the Queen has donned her train in the robing room, she proceeds into the House of Lords. The Imperial State Crown, this time, was put on a stand in front of the Queen. She wore a crown that weighs somewhat less, because age has its privileges, especially for a monarch.
Then comes an intriguingly blatant ceremony that honors democracy and the independence of the House of Commons from the Crown and the House of Lords. For the first time, the main player in this ceremony was a woman.
Finally, the Queen delivered her 65th speech in a strong voice and perfect diction, using words that Prime Minister Johnson and his Conservative Party government wrote to outline their priorities. The speech began with Brexit and continued with a litany of issues that a Democrat would be pleased to have in a platform in the US — education, the environment, infrastructure, and health care. There was also a long section on crime and punishment, but even that included a line about rehabilitation.
My new life goal: read a public statement when I’m 93 years old. I do that fairly regularly now at school board meetings. I hope the issue that I’ve been addressing for the last few years will be solved and I’ll be advocating for even greater improvements in 36 years.
Later in the week, EU and UK negotiators worked day and night to come up with something to present at the EU summit on Thursday–and they succeeded. So, now, the stage is set for a dramatic, rare Saturday session of the UK Parliament tomorrow.