World

Queen's Speech: Pomp, ritual in delivering UK gov't program

Queen Elizabeth II delivered a speech to Parliament on Wednesday outlining the British government's legislative agenda. It's an event normally marked by pomp and tradition.

Here are some details about the occasion:

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WHAT IS THE QUEEN'S SPEECH?

The speech is a list of laws that the British government plans to bring forward in the coming year.

Delivered on the day of the ceremonial opening of Parliament, the speech is the centerpiece of a great state occasion, normally replete with crowns, tiaras, ermine robes and soldiers on horseback.

It was a dressed-down affair this year because the election put the date too close to the queen's birthday parade, and it wasn't possible to put on two such occasions within days of one another.

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WHO WRITES THE SPEECH?

The remarks are written by the prime minister and her staff.

The monarch reads the speech on behalf of the government.

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WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT THIS YEAR?

Britain is beginning negotiations for leaving the European Union.

The discussion comes at a time when the government is weak following Prime Minister Theresa May's disastrous decision to hold a snap election in which she lost her majority.

The nine-minute speech reflected May's diminished position — a loss of stature that has emboldened those within her own party who want a "softer" Brexit which makes a less-sharp break with the EU.

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THE THINGS THEY CARRIED

In keeping with the scaled-down ceremony, the queen wore a blue hat and coat rather than ceremonial robes and the Imperial state crown. The monarch was preceded to her golden throne by peers carrying the Cap of Maintenance and the Great Sword of State — symbols of the sovereign's power and authority. The crown was carried before her on a pillow.

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WHO WAS MISSING?

Prince Philip, the husband of the queen, didn't attend after being hospitalized for an infection.

Prince Charles stood in for his father.