What is the Queen’s speech?
Since the English civil war (1968-1971) the monarchy has been answerable to parliament and the Queen’s speech is the annual occasion where she publicly announces all of the things that government are making her do, where they’re making her go and who they are making her meet. Everyone claps at the end, but she knows there are snipers waiting to take her out if she deviates from the script.
Isn’t it just boring?
Unlike the King’s Speech (2010), the Queen’s speech has been snubbed by both the BAFTA awards and the Oscars, but it is a very important ceremonial occasion, and if we didn’t have ceremony we’d be as bad as the foreign. The occasion is very much the Cannes of British politics (although the Prime Minister is not required to wear heels) with many people who you see droning away on the telly turning up to listen to an old lady say what she’s been told to say. The speech did win a Razzie for Worst Sex Scene in 2001.
Is there a lot of ceremony involved?
Indeed. The Queen will be accompanied by her Household Carvery, who traditionally lay on a 4 meat spread for the House of Commons at the Bar of the House. The members of the commons are summoned to the bar by the traditional playing of Agadoo by Black Lace and are given the opportunity to see the House of Lords, which is where they’ll end up if they manage to avoid fucking up so badly that Operation Yewtree are involved.
The Queen is handed her speech, written on skin from the calf of the last Prime Minister, by a Chancellor. Since the trouble German Chancellor Adolf Hitler caused a British one is now used most of the time.
How is the speech written?
The writing of the speech is a 5 stage process:
- The Prime Minister tells journalists things that they want to hear so that they write nice things about him.
- He then works out which of these things will or will not appear in the speech, based on which ones journalists didn’t seem to like, if they were complete un-costed flights of fancy or if they’d be legally impossible and cause the United Kingdom to descend into another civil war.
- The Prime Minister writes up the surviving items in his best handwriting, adding phrases such as ‘My government will’ and other things a 90 year old lady might say, such as, ‘This used to be all trees’, ‘I don’t like the new 5 pence pieces – they’re too small to see ones face properly’ and ‘You’re all just after my money. Well I’m leaving it to a Corgi charity!’
- Traditionally the PM slips in a clause about abolishing the monarchy and guillotining them all in Hyde Park on a bank holiday Monday, for the Queen to chuckle at before she begs for the lives of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
- The Lord Chancellor, traditionally the Prime Minister’s cleverest friend – although recently it was Chris Grayling – checks the spelling and makes sure the PM has used capital letters, full-stops and language that puts him on the legal side of hate-crime charges. If all is well he puts on his party frock and gets ready to hand the speech over.
Is that it?
No, after the speech comes the difficult part of actually doing all of the things that the government has announced it is going to do. This is a long process of speaking to people who understand that the country isn’t run from the Newsnight studio, those with actual law degrees and a bunch of MPs who will all want their own political hobby-horse to be stroked in exchange for them voting the laws in.
This process could take many years, but in a year’s time there’ll be another Queen’s speech and another load of front pages to fill, and so the cycle continues…