The British parliament has officially reopened after last week’s elections in England, Scotland and Wales.
The new session was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II, in line with British tradition.
She revealed several new bills will be proposed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government, including legislation to set legally-binding environmental targets, tackle “hostile activity” from other countries, give more powers to the devolved government in Northern Ireland and immigration reforms.
The reigning monarch confirmed the controversial police, crime, sentencing and courts bill, which will give the police more powers to tackle protesters, will also be reintroduced. She also affirmed the government’s proposal of a new flexible loan for people aged 16 and over to help them retrain if they change jobs and do not want to go to university.
Announcing the bills, the queen said: “My government’s priority is to deliver a national recovery from the pandemic that makes the United Kingdom stronger, healthier and more prosperous than before.
“To achieve this, my government will level up opportunities across all parts of the United Kingdom, supporting jobs, businesses and economic growth and addressing the impact of the pandemic on public services.”
In her closing remarks, she added: “My government will continue to provide aid where it has the greatest impact on reducing poverty and alleviating human suffering. My government will uphold human rights and democracy across the world. It will take forward a global effort to get 40 million girls across the world into school.”
The announcements were given in her address, known as “The Queen’s Speech,” which outlines all of the legislation the government wishes to debate and pass during the next few months.
The event is usually extravagant, with the queen wearing full regal robes, a crown and arriving at parliament in a carriage.
However, this year was more pared-down, because coronavirus guidelines require the event be smaller and less grand. In line with the regulations, the queen wore a lavender day dress with a matching hat, which had yellow flowers, white gloves, a black handbag and black shoes instead.
She did not wear a face mask during the proceedings.
The queen also arrived and left in a car, rather than in a carriage.
She was accompanied by her eldest son, Prince Charles, who wore a black morning coat, grey trousers, white shirt, black waistcoat and blue tie with a black and white face mask.
He was joined by his wife, Camilla, duchess of Cornwall, who wore a white coat, matching hat, dress, face mask and clutch bag.
The pair sat to the queen’s left during the state opening.
It was the first major public event undertaken by the queen since the death and funeral of her husband, Prince Philip, last month, and was her 67th state opening of British parliament.
Around 100 people attended this year, rather than the usual 600, due to social-distancing restrictions.
During the event, lawmakers stood in the royal gallery, spaced in line with distancing requirements, and watched the queen pass through before she gave her speech from parliament’s upper house, the house of Lords.
Once she called the lawmakers to hear her speech, Johnson, his Home Secretary Priti Patel, and leader of the opposition Keir Starmer were among the limited number of people allowed to listen to the speech inside the house due to social distancing rules.
After the queen finished speaking, she was led out by Prince Charles, with Camilla following.
The queen left separately from Prince Charles and Camilla.
Britain’s lawmakers subsequently returned to parliament’s lower house, the House of Commons.