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The Queen’s role as UK elects new parliament


Michael Garnett via Flickr CC

Boris Johnson will return to Number 10 Downing Street today after winning a big majority in the snap General Election held on December 12th 2019. But as he’ll make his way to the famous address via an even better known London landmark. Like all Prime Ministers, he needs to see the Queen before getting down to the political business of a new administration. Here, Royal Central looks at the role Her Majesty will play as the UK elects a new parliament.

Kissing Hands

The Conservatives under Boris Johnson might have won that all important Commons majority, but their hold on power technically isn’t assured until the Queen says so. After a General Election, the Monarch appoints the Prime Minister and the person who gets the job is down to her alone. On paper, anyway. While it’s the Queen’s prerogative to appoint the PM, she does so under constitutional conventions and that generally means that if the leader of a party can command the confidence of the Commons, they will be invited to Buckingham Palace and asked to form a government.

Boris Johnson will arrive at the Palace to be shown into a room for a private audience with Her Majesty. There, she will ask him if he can form a government. Once he says yes, the ‘Kissing of Hands’ is recorded as having taken place. The official royal website points out that there is absolutely no kissing taking place at this meeting, adding ”this will take place later, in Council”. What we will see is a photo of Her Majesty with her new Prime Minister before he heads off into the chilly December air to set about forming his government.

The State Opening of Parliament

A new government means a new State Opening, the formal ceremony which signals that a new parliament is under way. The Queen travels to the Palace of Westminster to deliver the Queen’s Speech and until that is read, no business can take place in either the House of Commons or the House of Lords.

This will be the second State Opening of Parliament in just two months and Boris Johnson signalled before the election that this time round it will be a ‘slimmed down’ version of the event. That’s likely to mean no State robes or jewels although the Crown itself must be present during the Speech and will sit on a table near to the Queen. The State Opening is likely to take place within days with December 19th already mentioned as a potential date.

The Prince of Wales will no doubt accompany the Queen. In October, the Duchess of Cornwall was also present at the State Opening of Parliament.

A Busy New Year

The Queen will head to Sandringham for her Christmas celebrations once she has concluded her role as Monarch in the establishment of a new parliament. However, her long stay in Norfolk may be less relaxing than usual as Boris Johnson has said he intends to be very busy now that he has his own mandate. The UK is set to leave the European Union on January 31st 2020 while Conservative MPs told media outlets throughout the election count night that a new Tory government would want to start pushing legislation through parliament before Christmas. It means the usually slow start to the calendar year will be forgotten as 2020 gets under way.

Royal Central will keep you up to date with all the developments as they happen.



About author

Lydia is a writer, blogger and journalist. She's worked in the media for over twenty years as a broadcast reporter, producer and editor as well as feature and online writer. As well as royals and royal history, she's a news junkie and podcaster.