Great Britain

Queen’s Speech: Monarch appears dressed down on single throne in first public engagement since Philip’s death

The Queen has completed her first major ceremonial duty since her husband Prince Philip passed away last month on 9 April and the royal family undertook two weeks of official mourning.

The State Opening of Parliament on Tuesday marks the 67th of the monarch’s reign, and was likely the most pared down ceremony of its kind she has ever attended, due to coronavirus regulations. There are normally over 600 guests in attendance.

Her Majesty arrived at Parliament via a convoy of Bentley cars - to the Sovereign’s Entrance with the Royal Standard flag flying - instead of a horse and carriage, passing through the short ceremonial route from Buckingham Palace and flanked by police escorts.

She donned an elegant lilac coat with embellished collar and shoulders over a floral dress, with a matching hat, her signature white gloves, a black Launer London handbag and block heels.

She was also the only person who did not wear a facemask during the ceremony. Everyone present was reported to have taken a coronavirus test beforehand.

Traditionally, Queen Elizabeth would wear a formal gown and a red velvet robe, by robemakers Ede & Ravenscroft, lined with white ermine for the state opening. However, this is not the first time she has opted for a more casual day dress instead, as she did the same in 2019.

The last time she wore day dress instead of the traditional outfit was in 1974. Today is only the third occasion the State Opening has been conducted in a “dressed down” manner, and the Queen dressed accordingly.

Waiting for her in the Royal Gallery was a single, ornate golden throne placed under the gold canopy. Before the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, there would have been a pair of thrones to seat the Queen and her consort.

During the procession to the throne, Prince Charles held his mother’s hand before taking his place next to his wife Camilla on chairs of state, which were placed to the side of the throne.

The Prince of Wales wore a black mask and a black morning suit and the Duchess of Cornwall wore a full-white outfit, including her dress, hat, purse, gloves and mask.

The Duke of Cornwall first started attending State Openings in 2017, the same year his late father officially retired from public royal life. He attended the ceremonies in June 2017, October 2019, and December 2019.

Due to the Covid-secure nature of the ceremony, the Queen sat alone, as she did during Prince Philip’s funeral.

The speech itself was slightly shorter than the one Her Majesty made at the previous state opening, clocking in at eight minutes and 52 seconds whilst the previous speech ran for nine minutes and 14 seconds.

Comprising of 937 words, it was the shortest speech since 2016 and below the average length of Queen’s Speeches during Her Majesty’s 69-year reign.

Following the speech, she was seen chatting with the Marquess of Cholmondeley and others involved in the ceremonial aspects of the day. She gestured animatedly before giving them a broad smile and bidding them farewell.

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