King Charles III traveled in a horse-drawn carriage on Tuesday to open a new session of the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament, which is almost certainly the final one ahead of the general election, which must be held by January 2025.
In a typically British tradition of pomp and pageantry, the colorful royal procession took place to enable the governing Conservatives to lay out the new laws they intended to introduce in the new session of Parliament.
In the ornate chamber of the House of Lords, Charles, accompanied by Queen Camilla, read out the King’s Speech, detailing the legislative program.
Although the speech is recited by the monarch, it was written by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his senior ministers.
One of the first measures announced by Charles III was a bill to support the future licensing of new oil and gas fields in the North Sea, saying it would help the country transition to net zero emissions by 2050.
This has already been criticized by environmentalists opposed to oil and gas extraction off the country’s coasts.
On the economy, Charles III said the government will address inflation and the drivers of low growth. He also said steps will be taken to make the economy more competitive, taking advantage of freedoms afforded by the UK’s departure from the European Union.
He said new bills will also be brought in to pave the way for self-driving vehicles to be made legal on British roads, and a bill to deal with what he described as the scourge of unlicensed pedicabs in London.
The monarch said the UK will strengthen education for the long term through the introduction of the Advanced British Standard which will bring technical and academic routes into a single qualification.
Proposals will also be implemented to reduce the number of young people studying poor quality university degrees and increase the number undertaking high quality apprenticeships.
Education experts have already been critical of the proposed education reforms, saying they could take ten years to implement.
“The speech set out the government’s planned political agenda and is a time for opposition parties to critique the current government. Thus, the Labour Party will critique the content and attempt to lay out the case for a change of government,” Professor John Bryson from the University of Birmingham told Xinhua.
“A key question is – will this King’s Speech help or hinder the Conservative Party as they head to the next general election? The problem is that events might occur that transform the UK over the 12 months, but such events will come from outside the UK,” he said.
The last King’s Speech was delivered over 70 years ago when Charles III’s grandfather, George VI, was on the throne. In the intervening seven decades, Elizabeth II delivered the Queen’s Speech.
Lawmakers will now debate the King’s Speech for six days as part of its journey through the legislative processes.