By Jun Kit Man, Digital Media Manager (Edited by Jonathan Pearse)
On November 7, 2023, the UK is set to mark a new chapter as King Charles III delivers his first King's Speech during the State Opening of Parliament, a tradition where the monarch outlines the government's legislative agenda for the upcoming parliamentary session.
This event holds significance as it's not just a continuation of royal tradition, but also King Charles III's debut in carrying out this important duty, a role once performed by his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.
The King's Speech is a tradition that traces back to the 16th century, serving as a means for the monarch to express the legislative priorities of the government to the parliament and the nation. Although delivered by the monarch, the speech is written by the government, particularly the Prime Minister and the cabinet, reflecting the policies and legislative agenda they aim to pursue. The historical significance of this tradition lies in embodying the working relationship between the monarchy and the elected government, symbolising the monarch's endorsement of the government's agenda while also marking the formal commencement of a new parliamentary session. The King's Speech serves as a historical marker, reflecting the political and societal priorities of the time, and is a keenly observed event both domestically and internationally.
The relationship between the monarchy and politics in the UK is one of a constitutional nature, where the monarch acts as a ceremonial figurehead while the elected government holds the executive power. The King's Speech is a prime example of this relationship, where the monarch formally communicates the legislative agenda of the government to the parliament. While the monarchy retains a symbolic role, the real political power and decision-making lie with the elected officials. This arrangement maintains the historical tradition and the continuity of the monarchy while ensuring the functioning of a democratic political system.