This morning the Queen went to Parliament to read what is called the Queen Speech or the Throne Speech as we say in Canada. Because Prince Philip who is 96 is unwell with what appears to be a recurring bladder infection in hospital, it was the Prince of Wales and Heir to the Throne accompanied her.
They arrived by car taking a different route following Birdcage Walk Rd unto Great George Street bringing them directly to Parliament instead of following Pall Mall down through Admiralty Arch. It is just a 3 minute drive and it was certainly not the leisurely procession by carriage and horse mounted escort seen on such an occasion.
The Queen entered Westminster Palace through the Sovereign’s Entrance greeted by David Cholmondeley, KCVO, Lord Great Chamberlain who is an Officer of the Royal House.
She was not wearing the Robes of State, or the Imperial State Crown as is customary. Prince Charles was in morning dress.
The Crown which arrived in its own late model Rolls Royce, placed on a cushion and carried by one of the Great Officers of the Royal Household, it was placed on the right hand of the Sovereign. It all had the look of a hurry up event, this scaled back version is the first one since 1974. In fact when the Gentleman of the Black Rod was sent from the House of Peers to the House of Commons to summon the members to attend the Queen, one veteran member of the Labour Party Dennis Skinner said quite loudly, put on your skates, meaning that someone was in a hurry to go to Ascot for the races. Everyone laughed. It is understood he meant the Queen. The Queen read the speech with no great enthusiasm, going through the paces but trying not to give anything away. This is the Westminster parliamentary system and PM May does have to show that she can govern and given the chance to prove it. It is the same thing in Canada, as long as a Prime Minister has the confidence of the House, he or she can stay in Office.
From the speech it is clear that the current government of Theresa May will not last very long it was a hollow speech with nothing of significance in it. I expect a vote of no confidence and either the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn will be asked to form a government or there will be fresh elections. Not a good start to the Brexit talks this week.
In the meantime in Canada, Parliament could go into recess today Wednesday or tomorrow Thursday depending on what the Senate will do with the Budget bill. Much protest by the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about Senators trying to delay or question the content of the bill and the part relating to the Infrastructure Bank. This is all too strange, it is the Constitutional duty of the Senate to examine and raise question. The Government representative in the Senate, Peter Harder even went so far as too say that it was costing money to delay passage of the Budget bill. As if he was suggesting we could have democracy only if it was on the cheap. In an unheard of move, some government member and Minister Bardish Chaggar, Liberal House Leader even came to the Senate Chamber and stood at the bar to observe the vote of the Senators. This was seen by the Conservatives Senators as an intimidation gesture. What was also strange was the tabling of 4 new bills by the Government, on important matters. Obviously they will not be debated until the House returns in the Fall. There are also rumours of a Cabinet shuffle by PM Trudeau and a possible prorogation of Parliament in the Fall which would see all unfinished business abandoned unless the Government decided to re-table the same bills. It has also been announced that the Governor General David Johnston’s mandate will expire in September. So who will be the new Governor General? At any rate Members of Parliament are in a rush to go on vacation for the Summer.
The Senate Chamber in Parliament in Ottawa.