The State opening of Parliament in London is a frankly bizarre hotchpotch of political manifesto and century-old tradition, made even more odd this year by the knife-edge state of British politics.
French journalist Sonia Stolper, the UK and Ireland correspondent of French newspaper Libération, was given the unenviable task to attempting to explain the whole things to her audience back in France.
The Queen travels by coach to parliament and back. Photo: AFP
In an epic Twitter thread Sonia recounted the process, complete with the Queen in a horse-drawn carriage, Black Rod banging on the door with a stick and the procession of MPs to the House of Lords and adds her own thoughts on the extreme oddity of the process.
In addition to all the pageantry, the State opening of parliament does have an actual political purpose – it's when the Queen spells out the agenda of the ruling political party for the next parliamentary session. Although she delivers the speech, it is written for her by the Prime Minister of the day.
But this year even that was rendered odd by the knife-edge that British politics is teetering on – Prime Minister Boris Johnson does not have a parliamentary majority for his Conservative party and an election is highly likely in the weeks or months ahead, so most of the policies that were announced in London yesterday will be unlikely to be enacted.
Here is Sonia's take on a particularly British moment . . .
Hop hop, ça faisait longtemps (cinq jours) que c'était bien calme au Parlement de Westminster. Il était suspendu, légalement cette fois, avant le Queen Speech prononcé ce matin
— soniastolper (@soniastolper) October 14, 2019