HENRY DEEDES on a State Opening that was more panto than Parliament

Daily Mail Online 1 month ago
Queen Elizabeth II delivers the Queen's speech
Queen Elizabeth II delivers the Queen's speech

Peeved. That’s the word I’d use to describe the Queen at the State Opening of Parliament.

As she took her position in her gold-glistered throne in the House of Lords, there was a weariness to that regal glare that suggested she was not entirely happy to be there.

When MPs began filing in from the Commons, she issued a tired, wheezy sigh. I may be projecting, but it is quite possible the 93-year-old was fed up to the hind molars with the lot of them.

After all the hoo-ha these past three years over Brexit, who could blame her?

We got the pomp and we got the pageantry but it felt barely worth the effort.

There was a flatness about proceedings unbefitting of such an occasion. With a General Election round the corner, it all seemed rather meaningless.

Ten minutes is all it took the monarch to announce her government’s new legislative agenda – less time than it takes Prince Philip to barbecue a pork chop.

The Queen arrived in the Royal Carriage but chose not to wear the Imperial State Crown - before waiting patiently in the Lords chamber for MPs to trail in from the House of Commons for her speech today (pictured with Prince Charles)
The Queen arrived in the Royal Carriage but chose not to wear the Imperial State Crown - before waiting patiently in the Lords chamber for MPs to trail in from the House of Commons for her speech today (pictured with Prince Charles)

She rattled through her Prime Minister’s ambitious programme on crime, health and the environment with the élan of a maître d’ reeling off the chef’s specials.

Her Majesty had arrived in the Royal Carriage but chose not to wear the Imperial State Crown. Weighing just more than 2lb, it is too heavy for the royal head.

The Marquess of Cholmondeley, HM’s Lord Great Chamberlain, carried it ahead of her on a plumped-up cushion, his boyish face a study in careful concentration, as though disposing of a depth charge. With her husband now excused these events, she was accompanied by the Prince of Wales, whose chest bore enough military decoration to make Idi Amin in his prime blush.

When MPs started filing in, she issued a tired, wheezy sigh and took a mere ten minutes to announce her government’s new legislative agenda
When MPs started filing in, she issued a tired, wheezy sigh and took a mere ten minutes to announce her government’s new legislative agenda

To his left sat Camilla, a vision in champagne silk and sparklier than the Milky Way. Amazingly, down on the red Lords benches, among the assorted cons, claret gurglers and quangocrats, there were empty spaces.

The happiest man in the place was Lord (Norman) Lamont who’d bagged himself a seat next to gaudy brassiere tycoon Lady (Michelle) Mone.

On the berths reserved for the law lords, Supreme Court President Lady Hale, wearing what looked like a squashed pirate hat but no sign of her Boris-taunting spider brooch, arrived earlier than the rest of her legal peers. Keen to attract the television cameras, perhaps.

The Queen is offered the hand of Charles during the event at the House of Lords today where she rattled through her Prime Minister’s ambitious programme on crime, health and the environment with the élan of a maître d’ reeling off the chef’s specials
The Queen is offered the hand of Charles during the event at the House of Lords today where she rattled through her Prime Minister’s ambitious programme on crime, health and the environment with the élan of a maître d’ reeling off the chef’s specials
The Imperial State Crown, weighing just more than 2lb, is too heavy for the royal head and is carried in front of her during the State Opening of Parliament today (pictured)
The Imperial State Crown, weighing just more than 2lb, is too heavy for the royal head and is carried in front of her during the State Opening of Parliament today (pictured)

Among the peers’ wives, the tiara count was high, even if some dresses were cut a trifle low.

I spotted one cleavage so heaving that it would not have been out of place among the burlesque beauties of Madame Jojos’s late, lamented venue in Soho.

In the visitors’ gallery, prime ministerial consort Carrie Symonds chuntered with her prospective father-in-law, Stanley Johnson, her hair held in place with a Sloane Ranger Alice band.

Ex-business minister Greg Clark looked down over the chamber intently, possibly imagining himself sitting there one day, tip to toe in ermine.

Commons Speaker’s wife Sally Bercow sat with a female pal looking miserable.

Queen Elizabeth II sits with Prince Charles on the Sovereign's throne in the House of Lords ahead the Queen's Speech today
Queen Elizabeth II sits with Prince Charles on the Sovereign's throne in the House of Lords ahead the Queen's Speech today

Responding to Black Rod’s traditional summons, Jeremy Corbyn appeared to rebuff the Prime Minister’s attempts at small talk.

He reacted to Johnson’s advances as though he were a tramp sidling up to him outside Tesco begging for a match for his cigarette.

For his sins, transport minister Grant Shapps got lumbered with Theresa May. SNP leader Ian Blackford waddled on alone.

As we departed the Press Gallery just after midday, one of the men in tights scoffed: ‘See you all back here in a couple of months.’

Yes, election fever in very much in the air.

When the Commons met after lunch, we heard two festival speeches as is the custom, the first a charming effort from Lee Rowley (Con, NE Derbyshire). The second, from Sarah Newton (Con, Truro and Falmouth), was drippier than tinned peaches.

Both Corbyn and Johnson’s appearances at the dispatch box dragged on far too long. Corbyn’s speech a was a Castro-esque yawneroo, the dullest I’ve heard in the chamber.

He prattled on for more than 40 minutes to a clammy, disinterested audience, prompting a fidgety Boris to begin theatrically puffing out his cheeks and staring at his watch to try to chivvy him along.

The PM at least provoked laughs. He compared Corbyn to Janus, the two-faced Roman god, over his Brexit stance: ‘First he was opposed to No Deal. Now he seems opposed to any deal.’

He performed far better than Corbyn but it was certainly no day for gloating.


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