Thursday, October 15, 1998 Published at 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK
Queen stomps on circumstance
The Queen's procession enters the Lords
The Queen is keeping her promise to move with the times by toning down the pageantry surrounding the State Opening of Parliament.
From now on the services will only be represented by Sir Charles Guthrie, Chief of the Defence Staff.
As well as cutting down on pomp the new ceremony will be much shorter.
A speedier ceremony
This innovation is designed to cut down on the time the Queen spends waiting for the MPs to arrive in the Lords.
The Queen usually finds herself waiting some minutes, as the commoners deliberately dawdle on the trip between the two houses, reluctant as they are to acknowledge that the Lords is, traditionally at least, the senior chamber.
Leading historian and Conservative peer Lord Blake welcomed the proposals saying: "From my own experience I know the Queen has to wait what seems like an awful long time for the MPs to arrive."
He added: "I think it is an excellent idea and sensible. I understand the initiative has come from the Queen and I think it should be accepted."
"I think we should take this opportunity not to slim down the Queen's Speech but to abolish both."
Back to the future
The forward looking move, described by Buckingham Palace as a "common sense adjustment to the ceremony," hopes to see the Queen's Speech keep up with modern trends.
But the great officers of state, including the Lord Great Chamberlain and the Earl Marshall, who lead the procession ahead of the Queen, will still walk backwards so as to remain facing the monarch to avoid showing any disrespect.
The palace offered the procession leaders the choice of walking forwards but they declined.
But the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, however has elected to walk forwards, not out of lack of respect but out of a fear of causing accidents.
Several officers, including the Crown Equerry and Silver Stick in Waiting, are being axed from the ceremony and the number of Ladies in Waiting present is also being reduced.
Changes are also being made to the role of the heralds in the procession.
The changes to the ceremony, being worked out by the Earl Marshal, the Duke of Norfolk, will be announced in full in the coming weeks.
The next Queen's Speech is expected to take place in mid or late November.
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