Monday, November 23, 2009

Should the Queen read the Queen's speech?

While watching the Queens’ speech, I found myself saying ‘boo’ and ‘nonsense’ etc, when suddenly I felt very guilty. Here was a lady, 83 years old, 57 years as our Queen, a lifetime of service to the country, one of the greatest Britons that ever lived, and I am sitting here heckling her.

Of course the Queen is merely reading out text written by the Prime Minister – of whom we have every right to boo and heckle – but this made me wonder whether having the government’s programme read by the Queen gives it some sort of false respectability and risks dragging the Queen into party politics by exploiting the automatic loyalty most people have for her.

Apparently it’s an annual game amongst spin doctors as to how much they can get away with. For example, in 1997 Tony Blair’s first Queen’s speech started with ‘My Government intends to govern for the benefit of the whole nation’ – the implication being that the last lot had no such intention.

Here’s a test. Imagine the Queen sitting on her throne, crown and jewels, the Duke next to her, etc. She is reading out. Have you got her voice in your head? Right, she now slowly reads the following:

‘My government will bring forward legislation to offset the national debt by selling parts of British territory to foreign countries. We look forward to welcoming the President of France to commemorate the handover of the Isle of Wight.’

‘My lords and Members of the House of Commons, legislation will be brought before you to provide every roof with a large upside down umbrella to combat the problems of water shortage.’

Now how do these ideas seem when you hear them from the Queen?

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