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Prince of Wales reads shortest Queen’s Speech for nearly 10 years

The Prince of Wales walks behind the Imperial State Crown during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords (Hannah McKay/PA)
The Prince of Wales walks behind the Imperial State Crown during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords (Hannah McKay/PA)

The Queen’s Speech ran to 874 words, making it the shortest speech at a State Opening of Parliament since 2013.

The text in its original form was even shorter, at 851 words, but was amended before being read by the Prince of Wales to replace all mentions of “my Government” with “Her Majesty’s Government” and “my ministers” with “Her Majesty’s ministers”.

The speech was well below the average length (1,091 words) of Queen’s Speeches during Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign.

POLITICS Speech
(PA Graphics)

The longest speech to date was in November 1999, when she had to deliver a speech lasting 1,751 words, according to analysis by the PA news agency.

The text, which took more than 15 minutes to read out, was the third Queen’s Speech of Tony Blair’s Labour government.

The shortest came exactly a decade later, in November 2009.

Totalling just 735 words, it took six-and-a-half minutes to deliver and was the third and final Queen’s Speech of Gordon Brown’s Labour government.

The Prince of Wales took eight minutes and 45 seconds to read Tuesday’s speech.

The longest Queen’s Speeches have all been under Labour prime ministers, with Tony Blair’s 1997-2001 government accounting for three of the top five.

POLITICS Speech
(PA Graphics)

Among the five shortest speeches is the first one ever delivered by Elizabeth II, which took place in November 1952 and was just 799 words long.

Tuesday’s speech was the 70th Queen’s Speech of Elizabeth II’s reign but the third not to be delivered by her in person.

In 1959 and 1963, the Queen did not attend the State Opening of Parliament, when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew and Prince Edward respectively.

On these occasions, the speech was read on her behalf by the Lord Chancellor.