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Governor General The Lord Tweedsmuir giving the Speech from the Throne to the Canadian parliament in 1938.

A speech from the throne (or throne speech) is an event in certain monarchies in which the reigning sovereign (or a representative) reads a prepared speech to a complete session of parliament, outlining the government's agenda for the coming session. This event is often held annually, although in some places it may occur more or less frequently whenever a new session of parliament is opened. The speech from the throne is not written by the head of state who reads it, but rather by the Ministers of the Crown in Cabinet, even though the reader may refer to My Government.


Commonwealth realms

In the Commonwealth realms, the Speech From the Throne is the oration given before the legislature (whether both chambers of a bicameral parliament such as Australia's or the single chamber of a unicameral parliament such as Saskatchewan's) as part of a lavish affair known as the State Opening of Parliament.[1] In each case, the speech outlines the sitting government's legislative programme for the new parliamentary session.[2]

The address is followed by a debate and vote in both houses, or the one house, of parliament.[2] Formally, the motion merely calls on parliament to thank the monarch or viceroy for the speech via an Address in Reply; the debate is, however, often wide-ranging, exploring many aspects of the government's proposed policies, and spread over several days. When the Address in Reply is eventually voted on, the poll is held to constitute a motion of confidence in the government, which, if lost, would result in the end of that government's mandate.[3] In some legislatures, this discussion and vote follows a symbolic raising of other matters, designed to highlight the independence of parliament from the Crown. In the Canadian House of Commons, the bill considered is Bill C-1 – an Act respecting the Administration of Oaths of Office,[4] while in the Senate, it is Bill S-1, an Act Relating to Railways.[5] In Australia and New Zealand, by contrast, no pro forma bills are introduced; there, the respective Houses of Representatives instead consider some brief and non-controversial business items before debating the Address in Reply.[6][7]

In the United Kingdom, where the practice originated, and where the monarch of the Commonwealth realms predominantly resides, Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech, also known as the Gracious Address or, less formally, as the Queen's Speech, is typically read by the reigning sovereign. The monarch may, however, appoint a delegate to perform the task in his or her place; Queen Elizabeth II did this in 1959 and 1963 – when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, respectively – having the Lord Chancellor deliver the address instead. In those countries that share with the UK the same person as their respective sovereign, the Speech From the Throne will generally be read on the monarch's behalf by his or her viceroy, the Governor-General, though the monarch can give the address in person; Queen Elizabeth II read the Throne Speech in the parliament of New Zealand in 1954, the parliament of Australia in 1954 and 1974,[8] the parliament of Canada in 1957 and 1977. Another member of the Royal Family may also perform this state duty, such as when on 1 September 1919, Prince Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) read the Speech From the Throne in the Canadian parliament.

For the legislatures of Australia's states and Canada's provinces, a Throne Speech is also performed to outline local legislative plans. In Canada, due to constitutional arrangements, this task may only be carried out by the relevant Lieutenant Governor, as representative of the sovereign in right of the respective province.[n 1] In Australia, the Governor of a state typically gives the oration in place of the monarch, but the reigning sovereign can perform the task in person; Queen Elizabeth II opened the parliaments of some of the Australian states in 1954, and of New South Wales in 1992.

A throne speech is not typical in the devolved legislatures within the United Kingdom, the nearest equivalent being a statement of the legislative agenda of the executive branch usually given by a First Minister.[9] However, the Queen often undertakes visits and speaks to the devolved bodies in a less official capacity; so far, she has been present and has given an address at all openings of the Scottish Parliament, usually speaking reflectively upon its accomplishments and wishing the institution well for its coming term rather than considering the plans of the executive.

Other countries

The throne of the Ridderzaal, from which the monarch of the Netherlands delivers the Throne Speech on the Day of the Princes.

Other monarchies, such as the Netherlands (Day of the Princes) and Norway, have similar throne speech ceremonies. In Sweden, the monarch gives a short address followed by the prime minister's statement of government policy.[10] In Japan, the Emperor makes only a short speech of greeting during the Diet opening ceremony;[11] he does not refer to any government policies, instead allowing the Prime Minister to address political matters. In Thailand, the King makes a speech at a joint session in the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall advising the National Assembly in their work.

Many republics also hold a yearly event in which the president gives a speech to a joint session of the legislature, such as the State of the Union Address given by the President of the United States. He is both the political leader, or head of government, and the head of state, and the State of the Union Address tends to reflect the more partisan character of the office of the President; for instance, the President, besides being head of government and state, is generally considered to be the head of his party, and the State of the Union tends to reflect this.

See also


  1. ^ The monarch can address the Legislative Assembly of a province in a personal capacity; Queen Elizabeth II did so for the Legislative Council of Quebec from its throne in 1964 and the Legislative Assembly of Alberta from the chamber's throne during her tour of that province in 2005.


  1. ^ "What is the Queen's Speech?". BBC. 3 December 2008. Retrieved 14 August 2008.  
  2. ^ a b House of Lords Library (9 November 2007). "Parliament Home Page > Frequently Asked Questions > State Opening". Queen's Printer. Retrieved 2 December 2009.  
  3. ^ House of Commons Library (September 2008), "Parliamentary Elections", Factsheet M7 (Queen's Printer): p. 3, ISSN 0144-4689,, retrieved 19 November 2009  
  4. ^ "39th Parliament, 2nd Session". Hansard (Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada) (001). 16 October 2007. 2000. Retrieved 2 December 2009.  
  5. ^ "Debates of the Senate, 2nd Session, 39th Parliament". Hansard (Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada) 144 (1). 16 October 2007. Retrieved 2 December 2009.  
  6. ^ "The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, House of Representatives Votes and Proceedings". Hansard (Canberra: Queen's Printer for Australia) (1). 12 February 2008. Retrieved 2December 2009.  
  7. ^ "Daily debates". Hansard (Wellington: Queen's Printer) 651: 7. 9 December 2008. Retrieved 2 December 2009.  
  8. ^ National Museum of Australia. "Exhibitions > Past exhibitions > Royal Romance > Crowns and gowns". Queen's Printer for Australia. Retrieved 2 December 2009.  
  9. ^ "McLeish unveils legislative plans". BBC. 5 September 2009. Retrieved 19 November 2009.  
  10. ^ Riksdag. "Programme for the opening of the 2007/08 Riksdag session". Hedman, Karin. Retrieved 3 December 2009.  
  11. ^ McLaren, Walter Wallace (2007). A Political History of Japan During the Meiji Era, 1867-1912. Read Books. p. 361. ISBN 9781406745399.  

External links



Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


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Alternative forms


Speech from the Throne

Speeches from the Throne

Speech from the Throne (plural Speeches from the Throne)

  1. A ceremonial event in some monarchies having parliamentary systems of government, occurring at the opening of a new parliamentary session or at some other interval, in which a king, queen, or designated official reads a prepared speech to the members of parliament outlining the government's agenda.


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