London, May 10
Queen Elizabeth II’s long reign entered new territory on Tuesday when, for the first time in seven decades, she delegated the formal opening of Parliament to her son and heir, Prince Charles.
The ceremony, which includes the reading of the Queen’s Speech laying out the government’s legislative programme, is considered an important symbol of the monarch’s constitutional role as head of state.
The queen’s decision to delegate her role to Charles is likely to be seen by the public as evidence that a transition is underway, with the 96-year-old monarch remaining on the throne but turning over more responsibilities to Charles.
“The heir is teetering on the edge of becoming a de facto prince regent. William will observe what awaits him,” said former BBC royal reporter Peter Hunt.
“With the queen progressively withdrawing from public life, the palace is keen to show the monarchy is safe in the hands of father and son.”
What is the queen’s speech?
The speech lays out the government’s legislative programme and is delivered during the formal opening of each session of Parliament. Since each parliamentary session lasts about a year, it is a roughly annual event.
The speech is written by the elected government, currently led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.