As the Queen was forced to leave on Monday due to a recurrence of mobility issues, Charles, 73, arrived at the Palace of Westminster to read the government’s legislative agenda.
Charles, who in recent years attended the opening of Parliament with his mother, began to read each bill with the words: “Her Majesty’s Government will …”.
Before the event, there was mixed confusion among those seated in the House of Lords as to whether Charles would sit next to the ceremonial throne or stand in front of it. When he arrived and sat on the throne, surprise could be heard among those who personally watched.
The program for the day, presented to those who had tickets to the House of Lords, was not updated to reflect the fact that the Queen would not be in attendance herself, leaving some uncertainty as to exactly how the day’s events would play out.
The State Opening of Parliament is an event of great pomp and spectacle, with the Queen traditionally riding to the meeting in the state carriage, accompanied by mounted soldiers in ceremonial uniform, while the Imperial State Crown and other regalia ride forward in their own carriage.
The Monarch dons the Robe of State before leading the procession to the upper house of the House of Lords, where she sits on her throne and formally opens the new session of Parliament, reading a speech written by the government outlining its legislative plans.
The Queen only missed the opportunity twice during her 70-year reign, in 1959 and 1963 when she was pregnant with her sons Andrew and Edward.
The Queen, who has missed a number of public events since she was hospitalized overnight for an unspecified illness last October, had to issue “letters patent” to allow Charles and William to perform her role at the constitutional event.
Traditionally, leaders of government and opposition use the Queen’s speech as a time to put aside their differences and have a friendly chat on their way from the House of Commons to the House of Lords. However, Starmer and Johnson looked ahead and barely exchanged words.