The State Opening of Parliament is a traditional event on the first day of a new parliamentary session. The queen takes the opportunity to lay out the government’s agenda for the session, outlining proposed legislation. It’s note worthy because it’s the only annual occasion that includes all three constituent parts of Parliament: the Sovereign, the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
This year, the event is even more momentous, given that it’s the monarch’s first official outing since Philip’s April 17 funeral. He died on April 9 at 99 years old.
The queen has scaled back the opulence of the opening day event. She was escorted to the Houses of Parliament from Buckingham Palace in a car rather than a carriage, and she left the full regalia of state in her closet in favor of a sensible day dress and hat.
In recent years, the royal matriarch has opted not to wear the 2.3-pound Imperial State Crown. Instead, the purple velvet head piece, which is over one foot tall, was placed next to Her Majesty.
“You can’t look down to read the speech, you have to take the speech up. Because if you did, your neck would break. It would fall off,” the queen said in a 2018 BBC documentary about her 1953 coronation. “So there are some disadvantages to crowns, but otherwise they’re quite important things.”
Also by her side on Tuesday were the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall. Charles, 72, and Camilla, 73, have attended the Opening of Parliament in the past, but their presence is more meaningful since Philip’s death. As the first in the line of succession, Charles will one day be the Sovereign making this speech.
While Charles prepares for more responsibility, he remains angry with his son Prince Harry. The Duke of Sussex, 36, opened up about royal life in his March tell-all with CBS, and his relationship with his father still hasn’t recovered.
“Unfortunately, Harry and Charles didn’t resolve their differences when Harry returned to the U.K. They barely communicated,” a source told Us Weekly after Philip’s funeral. “There definitely continues to be a huge wedge between the two.”