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Historic first as emotional Charles delivers Queen's Speech after Monarch pulls out
10 May 2022, 13:10 | Updated: 10 May 2022, 15:51
An emotional Prince Charles has delivered the Queen's speech after his mother was forced to pull out for the first time in almost 60 years.
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The Prince of Wales stepped in yesterday after the 96-year-old Monarch was unable to take part on the advice of doctors, due to her continued mobility problems.
It was the first time she had been absent in over 50 years, having previously only missed it when in the late stages of pregnancy.
Charles was accompanied by Camilla and Prince William, with the Queen watching via a television at Windsor Castle.
As the Prince took on the head of state's major constitutional duty for the first time, the move has been interpreted as a symbolic and significant shift in his responsibilities as a future monarch.
The Speech, written by the Government, touched on the cost of living crisis, with the Prince saying it was a "priority" for ministers.
"Her Majesty's Government’s priority is to grow and strengthen the economy and help ease the cost of living for families," he said, opening the Speech.
He said the Government would "support" the Bank of England to help it reach its inflation targets, and would manage the public finances 'responsibly' by "reducing debt while reforming and cutting taxes".
He also talked about plans to toughen punishments for protesters in a bid to prevent disruptive demonstrations, such as those staged by Insulate Britain and Just Stop Oil.
The Prince also read out pledges to improve the regulation of social housing to strengthen the rights of tenants and "protect the integrity" of the UK's borders by preventing illegal Channel crossings.
There were also strong words on climate change, with the Government promising an Energy Bill to "deliver the transition to cheaper, cleaner, and more secure energy".
A total of 38 bills were announced by the Prince of Wales, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Speech "delivers on [the Tory Party's] promises".
"It will not only take us through the aftershocks of Covid but build the foundations for decades of prosperity, uniting and levelling up across the country," he added.
The Speech has been criticised by opposition parties for failing to take any meaningful action to tackle the cost of living crisis.
In the subsequent debate, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the crisis was the result of the Government's "failure to grow the economy over a decade combined with its inertia in the face of spiralling bills means that we are staring down the barrel of something we haven't seen in decades, a stagflation crisis".
He accused the Government of "complacency" and said: "We have a Government whose time is passed, a Cabinet out of ideas and out of energy, led by a Prime Minister who is entirely out of touch."
Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said the plan "does nothing to help the millions of families and pensioners facing soaring bills and eye watering inflation".
He also accused the Government of 'neglecting rural communities by failing to offer any support to farmers.
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner hit out at the Tories for failing to include an Employment Rights Bill in the Speech.
She accused Boris Johnson of "failing Britain's workers yet again with more broken promises".
"The Prime Minister pledged enhanced rights and protections at work, but is instead dragging Britain’s workers down - in a race to the bottom," she said.
Whilst the Queen was not present, the State Opening of Parliament had all its usual pageantry.
The Regalia - the Imperial State Crown, the Cap of Maintenance and Sword of State - were transported to the Palace of Westminster in three state limousines, separate from the rest of the Royal party.
Before the Speech, Black Rod Sarah Clarke had the door to the House of Commons slammed in her face - and had to knock on the door three times to request MPs attend the House of Lords.
The routine is a tradition to symbolise the sovereignty of Parliament, and its independence from the Monarchy.
Another tradition upheld was the keeping of an MP as hostage at Buckingham Palace.
Conservative MP James Morris was held at the Palace to ensure Prince Charles' safe return.
The Queen's health has deteriorated in recent months.
She had a stay in hospital in the autumn and has cancelled a string of engagements.
In February she sparked national concern when she contracted coronavirus.
After she recovered she revealed the virus left her feeling tired.
Prince Charles closed Tuesday's speech by saying the Monarch was looking forward to her Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
He said: "In this year of the Platinum Jubilee, Her Majesty looks forward to the celebrations taking place across the United Kingdom and throughout the Commonwealth, and to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer."
The Queen's Speech also took place against a turbulent political backdrop.
Sir Keir caused ripples yesterday when he announced that he would resign if he was fined by Durham Police over the 'Beergate' saga.
The Labour leader was pictured drinking beer in his constituency office in 2021, sparking a recent investigation into whether he broke Covid restrictions.
When he arrived for the Queen's Speech, Mr Johnson joked with him, flashing a grin and asking if he had had a good weekend.