Queen’s most crucial six days of her reign

Cap that: The crown contains 2,868 diamonds, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and 4 rubies. © Reuters

Will Britain agree a Brexit deal this week? At 11.30am, from the throne in the House of Lords, the Queen will launch the final act in Britain’s most important post-war drama. How will it end?

The stage is set. The play — part-farce, part-comedy, part-tragedy — has maddened, gripped and bored the country for over three years.

Today begins the final act.

The name of the play? Brexit. Producers? The Really Useless Group (some might say). Backers? Taxpayers United.

And who better to raise the curtain on the last twist of the plot than Britain’s revered, 93-year-old head of state, Queen Elizabeth II.

Today, she launches the fledgling, unelected Government’s legislative programme. She will read out a speech outlining 22 bills.

Even by British standards, the pomp and pageantry will be off the scale.

The Queen arrives at the Sovereign’s Entrance. Wearing the Imperial State Crown and the Robe of State, she leads the Royal Procession through the Royal Gallery.

The speech will then be debated by MPs throughout the week. If it is rejected by the end of the week, convention says that Boris Johnson must step aside and give someone else a chance to form a government.

But is there anyone else with the support of a majority of MPs? Not at present.

Would Johnson follow convention anyway? Probably not.

If he refused to go, could the Queen sack him? Technically, yes. Would she? Probably not.

And then the bigger question. Will the EU agree a Brexit deal?

Known unknowns

It’ll never happen, say many. Johnson won’t even be in charge by the end of the week. MPs will have voted down his programme. Then the Queen would be within her rights to dismiss him. And the EU will be delighted to welcome another Brexit extension or a second referendum.

Not so fast, say others. Leaks from those close to Germany’s powerful leader Angela Merkel expect a deal to be made on Friday. The last thing the EU wants is for Johnson to win an election and come back with more wind in his sails.

You Decide

  1. Is the Queen the most respected person in Britain?

Activities

  1. Draw a picture of the Imperial State Crown. Write down a list of all the jewels that are in it.

Some People Say...

“Power doesn't always roar [...]. The art of exerting power is an art used in doses — the more hidden it is the more effective.”

Ziad K. Abdelnour, Lebanon-born US author and philanthropist

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
After the Queen has spoken, the Prime Minister will commend his proposals to MPs. Jeremy Corbyn, as leader of the opposition, then gets his chance to respond, before other MPs are allowed to contribute. The debate normally lasts about five days. At the end of the debate, there is a vote. It is normally seen as symbolic, as it is extremely rare for a government to lose it.
What do we not know?
We don’t know what will happen next. If the Queen’s Speech is rejected, we will be in unchartered territory. There might be a vote of no confidence, which could lead to a general election or the current Government may well choose to ignore its outcome. In short, nothing is certain.

Word Watch

Queen Elizabeth II
She is Britain’s longest-living and longest-reigning monarch, and the world’s longest-serving female head of state, oldest living monarch, longest-reigning current monarch, and the oldest and longest-serving current head of state.
Bills
A proposal for a new law, or a proposal to change an existing law that is presented for debate before Parliament.
Pomp
Ceremony.
Pageantry
Colourful, rich display.
Sovereign’s Entrance
The Victoria Tower is a square tower at the south-west end of the Palace of Westminster. The main entrance at the base of the tower is the Sovereign’s Entrance, through which the Monarch passes at the State Opening of Parliament.
Imperial State Crown
One of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, and symbolises the sovereignty of the monarch. It has existed in various forms since the 15th century.
Convention
The way that something is usually done.
Second referendum
A referendum on the Brexit withdrawal agreement, also referred to as a “second referendum” or a “people's vote”, has been proposed by a number of politicians and pressure groups.
Wind in his sails
To get another burst of energy or power; another lease of life.

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