Queen Focuses on Economy in Pageantry-Filled Speech
(LONDON) -- Britain's Queen Elizabeth II laid out a legislative agenda focused on the economy and changes to the very body before which she spoke, Parliament, in a speech delivered Wednesday amid the pomp and pageantry befitting a royal monarch.
The queen, 86, opened her remarks, formally called the Queen's Speech and delivered annually, by saying it would be British lawmakers' "first priority … to reduce the deficit and restore economic stability."
She also laid out plans to reform the 700-year-old House of Lords, the unelected upper chamber, and introduce direct elections for its members. Previous attempts to overhaul the body, which only can amend, not make, legislation, have failed.
The speech, the closest thing the U.K. has to the State of the Union in the United States, is a largely ceremonial speech in which the monarch reads aloud the list of bills and goals for the legislative year ahead. The queen announced 29 items this year, including at least 15 pieces of legislation that will likely rise to the top of Britain's national agenda in the year ahead.
The speech is written by the ruling government, this year a coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.
Critics of the ruling government criticized the speech for lacking ambition during challenging economic times.
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