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Shorter Queen’s Speech for scaled-down ceremony

Queen Elizabeth II delivers a speech from the throne in House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London as she outlines the government's legislative programme for the coming session during the State Opening of Parliament. Pic by Chris Jackson

By Ian Jones, PA

The Queen’s Speech clocked in at eight minutes and 52 seconds – slightly shorter than the speech at the previous State Opening of Parliament in December 2019, which ran for nine minutes and 14 seconds.

It lasted 937 words, making it the shortest speech since 2016.

It was also below the average length (1,095 words) of Queen’s Speeches during Elizabeth II’s 69-year reign.

The longest speech to date was in November 1999, when she had to deliver a speech lasting 1,751 words, according to analysis by the PA news agency.

The text, which took more than 15 minutes to read out, was the third Queen’s Speech of Tony Blair’s Labour government.

The shortest came exactly a decade later, in November 2009.

Totalling just 735 words, it took six-and-a-half minutes to deliver and was the third and final Queen’s Speech of Gordon Brown’s Labour government.

The longest Queen’s Speeches have all been under Labour prime ministers, with Tony Blair’s 1997-2001 government accounting for three of the top five.

Among the five shortest speeches is the first one ever delivered by Elizabeth II, which took place in November 1952 and was just 799 words long.

Today’s speech was the 69th Queen’s Speech of Elizabeth II’s reign, and the 67th to be delivered by her in person.

In 1959 and 1963, the Queen did not attend the State Opening of Parliament, when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew and Prince Edward respectively.

On these occasions, the speech was read on her behalf by the Lord Chancellor.

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