There’s a wonderful article at the BBC about the traditions surrounding the Queen’s Speech in the House of Lords, which opens Parliament. The whole article is worth a read, but this in particular delighted me:
And here is the really cheeky move: parliament forces Her Majesty to consider her own mortality as she gets dressed for the occasion. For in the Robing Room of the House of Lords, where the Queen puts on her robe and imperial state crown, the authorities have chosen to display a facsimile of the death warrant of her ancestor, Charles I.
If ever there were a symbol to express the end of the divine right of kings and the limits of a constitutional monarchy, that document is it.
Who says the British don’t have a puckish sense of humor? 😀
Of course, fair is fair. The Queen is allowed to keep a member of Parliament hostage during her speech, to guarantee her safety. This year’s designated fall guy will have to suffer by sitting in Buckingham Palace and drink tea, while watching the speech on TV.
Oh, cruel fate!
The author makes an excellent point at the end, though, about why the British maintain these seemingly silly rituals:
The point is this: as you watch the state opening of parliament, remember it is one of the strongest ceremonial demonstrations of our liberty that we have. Democracy is not just the freedom to vote out a government we dislike; it is also the freedom not to be ruled by an autocratic monarch chosen by God.
It is what our ancestors fought over in the civil war. And it is a right that we are reminded of every year.
I can appreciate that.