To mark her Diamond Jubilee, the Queen yesterday addressed members of both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall. Her speech was short, well judged and well received. There was something of a dig at the sheer volume of legislation that is enacted: “The happy relationship I have enjoyed with Parliament has extended well beyond the more than three and a half thousand Bills I have signed into law”. It was a timely reminder of just how much legislation is enacted.
The speech was ideal for the occasion and there was a good feel to the whole ceremony. It was the usual pomp and pageantry, but without being over the top. Indeed, the thing that struck me about the day was that it was otherwise just a normal day – in so far as there is such a thing in Parliament. There was not all the security and changes that accompany State Opening. Traffic continued flowing, there wasn’t the closure of the car park or additional street barriers. After the ceremony, there was a reception in the Royal Gallery, but once that was over – and the Queen and Prince Philip had gone down in the lift to be driven off – we reverted to normal: the House met half-an-hour later than usual, but otherwise it was business as usual.
It was a great occasion without being extravagant, which I suspect was how the Queen wanted it.