I confess there has been little cooking, perhaps just a fraction more writing, but very much sitting, because as well as my appointment for a ‘virtual’ visit to the second day of Royal Ascot this afternoon, I was first in Westminster this morning, again ‘virtually’, to attend the State Opening of Parliament.
However, because of the snap General Election that Prime Minister, Mrs Theresa May called for the 8th June (in which she had expected to have a huge majority but then didn’t have a huge majority), the State Opening of Parliament was postponed for a week, and then it was a pared down affair, so that the Queen didn’t appear in her ceremonial robes nor travel in a coach drawn by horses, but in a blue ensemble and driving to the Palace of Westminster in a Bentley.
Indeed, I don’t think it matters one jot that she didn’t appear in robes of velvet and ermine, or wear the Imperial State crown, because the crown was there; it is the symbol of monarchy whether the Queen (or King) of the day wears it or not.
And so, the Imperial State crown arrived at the Palace of Westminster …
and was carefully carried in and placed close to where the sovereign would sit on the throne in the House of Lords in order to read the Queen’s Speech which outlines what the government of the day proposes to do.
The Queen hasn’t written the speech, it is written by the government of the day; she simply reads it. I mention these things for those who are not familiar with how our government ‘works’ in the United Kingdom.
As well as the crown, two other important items are carried in and placed close to where the Queen will sit – the Sword of State and the Cap of Maintenance.
These items are part of the Royal Regalia and both are carried before the monarch at the State Opening of Parliament.
And as the Queen would not be wearing her ceremonial robes today (indeed, it is more than 40 years since she last didn’t wear her robes for this ceremony) that meant she would not be wearing the Imperial State crown, and this was carried into the chamber of the House of Lords where she would give her Speech.
The Peers were all ready and waiting for the Queen’s arrival. Unfortunately she was not accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh as he’d been taken unwell last night and was in hospital being treated for an infection.
As soon as the Queen was ready, the trumpeters sounded her arrival.
The Yeoman of the Guard looks a little perturbed – but then so might you be, as close as this to a State Trumpeter!
The Queen was accompanied by Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, but before proceedings could begin, Black Rod (another office of State) summoned the members of the House of Commons to the House of Peers, in order to hear the Queen’s Speech.
It is tradition for the door to the House of Commons to be slammed in the face of Black Rod who then knocks with his rod on the door three times before he is permitted entry, and then summons the members to join the Queen in the House of Peers.
Once the Members of Parliament have arrived the Queen reads her Speech. Here, below, are Members of the House of Commons. In the front wearing all the gold braid is the Speaker of the House, John Bercow. PM Theresa May is just behind Mr Speaker. They line up, piling as many in as can get into an already packed House of Lords to hear the Speech.
Having been presented with the Speech, the Queen begins to read it …
And after that, the Queen departs and returns to Buckingham Palace.
Today, I think she will have gone swiftly to Windsor Castle for a quick change of outfit and then off to Royal Ascot. She certainly looks less solemn (below) when at the races!
Here she is seen in her carriage, chatting to the Duchess of Cornwall, the Queen now in an ensemble of what we were informed was “buttercup yellow.”
Again, a blisteringly hot day, temperatures even higher than yesterday, reaching 34C – I wouldn’t want to have been wearing a morning suit with top hat on a day like today. Indeed, permission was given to the gentlemen that they could remove their jackets because of the heat. Not that I saw any who did.
Some people had fans, both electric and traditional …
Everywhere looked immaculate, you’d not have thought there had been thousands of people there yesterday, or that six races had been run. The course had been watered overnight but the going was good to firm, nonetheless. But first, the traditional drive down the course, the playing of the National Anthem, and the crowds cheering.
Considering her husband had been admitted to hospital last night, and she’d been at the State Opening of Parliament this morning, and then perhaps having hosted lunch for her guests who were in the other carriages, the Queen looked in remarkable form, and wearing such a beautiful dress, coat and hat.
And if anyone thought that because she always carries a black bag that it was always the same black bag, I noticed that today’s bag was different from yesterdays …
Today’s bag with two handles (above)
Yesterday’s bag with one handle (below)
Between watching the State Opening of Parliament and ‘attending’ Royal Ascot, I made lunch for ourselves and younger son, who was again working at elder son’s house. I quickly cleared up the lunch things, loaded the dishwasher, and then decamped to the summerhouse, first with a cup of Earl Grey tea (photo at the beginning of the post), then with a glass of orange barley water topped up with mineral water and a couple of slices of lemon …
and later when husband joined me, a cup of tea with some ginger cake …
After which the heat became too much even in the summerhouse and I decamped to the study, opened the patio doors and switched on the electric fan and buckled down to some writing work. I actually managed to finish a piece and file copy.
I hope your day has been as enjoyable.
Until next time.