Thursday, 19 November 2009

Hostage situation at Buckingham Palace

The Queen's speech was given just a few hours ago, but how many of us knew that the Queen had a hostage waiting in Buckingham Palace?! I always thought the Government did not negotiate with kidnappers these days in a hostage situation...

Some traditions from the Queen's Speech, as detailed on the
DirectGov site:

State Opening timetable
On Wednesday, HM the Queen will leave Buckingham Palace in a carriage procession to deliver the Queen’s Speech to the Houses of Parliament at Westminster.

She travels from Buckingham Palace in a state coach to the Palace of Westminster, usually accompanied by her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. The imperial state crown travels in its own carriage, ahead of the Queen, escorted by members of the Royal Household.

On arrival at Parliament, the Queen puts on the crown and her parliamentary robe ready for the ceremony itself.

Representatives of the House of Commons are summoned by Black Rod - an official in the Palace of Westminster - who acts as the Queen's messenger.

By tradition, the door of the House of Commons is slammed in Black Rod's face, symbolising the independence of the Commons and its right to debate without the presence of the King or Queen's representative.

Black Rod then strikes the door three times with his staff and is finally let in. Black Rod bows to the Speaker before saying: "Mr Speaker, the Queen commands this honourable House to attend Her Majesty immediately in the House of Peers."

At around 11.30 am the Queen will read out the speech from the throne in the House of Lords. No monarch has set foot in the Commons since Charles I entered the Commons and tried to arrest five Members of Parliament in 1642. On that occasion the Speaker defied the King, refusing to tell him where the MPs were hiding.

About the Queen's Speech
The Queen's Speech is delivered by the Queen from the throne in the House of Lords, in the presence of members of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

Although she reads the speech, the speech is actually written by the government and approved by the Cabinet. It contains an outline of the government's policies and proposed new laws for the new parliamentary session. The Queen, after listing the main bills, states that "other measures will be laid before you", giving the government the opportunity to introduce other bills, not mentioned there. The Queen also lists any state visits that she intends making and any planned state visits of foreign heads of state to the UK.

The Queen reads the entire speech in the same tone, indicating her neutrality, implying neither approval nor disapproval of the policies she is announcing. The Queen makes constant reference to "my government" when reading the text.

Debate on the Queen's Speech
In the afternoon following the state opening, both Houses of Parliament debate a motion to send a 'humble address' to the Queen thanking her for the speech.

Over the next few days the government's legislative programme, as outlined in the Queen's Speech, is then debated by both Houses.

Traditions of the state opening
Several traditions surround the State Opening, and delivery of a speech by the monarch can be traced back to the 16th century. The current ceremony dates from the opening of the current Palace of Westminster in 1852.

Gunpowder plot
Before the Queen travels to Parliament from Buckingham Palace, certain traditional precautions are taken.

A detachment of the Queen's Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard searches the cellars of the Houses of Parliament. This dates back to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when Guy Fawkes was arrested while preparing to blow up Parliament. Today, the Yeomen of the Guard continue this historic search, in addition to the security checks by police.

The hostage MP
Another tradition is the 'hostage' Member of Parliament. Before the Queen leaves Buckingham Palace, a member of the government is held there to guarantee the safe return of the monarch. The hostage is released upon the safe return of the Queen.

So - who's going to arrest the Queen then?!

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1 comment:

hummer said...

Fascinating. I have never heard this before. Thank you for sharing.