Queen's Speech: What is it and why is it important?

By Tom Edgington
BBC News Analysis

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The Queen's Speech takes place on Thursday, one week after the Conservatives secured a majority at the general election.

The last Queen's Speech was held just nine weeks ago. So what is it and why is another one happening?

What is the Queen's Speech?

The Queen's Speech provides the government with an opportunity to highlight its priorities for the months ahead.

It forms part of the State Opening of Parliament ceremony, which marks the start of the parliamentary year.

The ceremony begins with a procession, in which the Queen travels from Buckingham Palace to Westminster - usually by carriage.

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image captionLarge crowds come to see the Queen driven by carriage during the State Opening of Parliament

MPs are summoned to the House of Lords by an official known as Black Rod. Before entering the Commons, Black Rod has the doors shut in their face, symbolising the chamber's independence from the monarchy.

During the speech, the Queen sets out the laws the government wants Parliament to approve. By convention, it is announced by the monarch in the presence of MPs, peers and other dignitaries in the House of Lords.

When is the Queen's Speech usually held?

Normally, a Queen's Speech happens once a year, but this will be the second in two months.

After becoming prime minister in July, Boris Johnson wanted to hold one. However, his initial attempt was blocked by the Supreme Court over the length of time Parliament was to be closed before it was held.

Despite the controversy, Mr Johnson did eventually hold a Queen's Speech on 14 October.

But now that a general election has been held, the new Conservative government needs another Queen's Speech to set out its agenda.

What's going to be in the Queen's Speech?

The last Queen's Speech set out 26 bills - pieces of proposed legislation - covering areas such as Brexit, crime and education.

Many of these bills are likely to reappear in this speech. The main ones are the Brexit bill, to ensure the UK leaves the EU by 31 January, and a bill to bring in tougher sentences for violent and sexual offenders.

Some of the Conservatives' election pledges, such as extra NHS funding, are also likely to be included in the list of bills.

Who writes the Queen's Speech?

It is written by ministers but delivered by the Queen from the throne of the House of Lords.

Its length depends on the number of proposed laws and other announcements - such as foreign policy objectives - but it normally takes about 10 minutes.

Can anyone else deliver the Queen's Speech?

The Queen has delivered the speech 65 times but was absent in 1959 and 1963, when she was pregnant.

On those occasions, the speech was read by the Lord Chancellor.

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image captionPrime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservatives have a majority of 80 seats

Is there a vote on it?


The new session of Parliament begins almost immediately. About two hours after the speech is delivered, MPs reassemble in the House of Commons to begin debating its contents.

After introductory speeches by two MPs, the prime minister will "sell" the speech to the Commons, setting out their vision for the country.

The leader of the opposition then gets their chance to respond, before other MPs are allowed to contribute.

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image captionThe last prime minister to lose a vote on the speech was Stanley Baldwin in 1924

The debate on what is known as the "Humble Address" normally lasts about five days.

At the end of the debate there is a vote. It's normally seen as symbolic, as it is extremely rare for a government to lose it.

In fact, the last time a government lost the vote was in January 1924, under Conservative Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. Mr Baldwin proceeded with a King's Speech, under George V, despite having lost his majority in the previous month's general election.

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