Speech from the Throne
A speech from the throne (or throne speech) is an event in certain monarchies
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

 in which the reigning sovereign (or a representative) reads a prepared speech to a complete session of parliament
A parliament is a legislature, especially in those countries whose system of government is based on the Westminster system modeled after that of the United Kingdom. The name is derived from the French , the action of parler : a parlement is a discussion. The term came to mean a meeting at which...

, 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
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

, or representative thereof, who reads it, but rather by the ministers of the crown
Minister of the Crown
Minister of the Crown is the formal constitutional term used in the Commonwealth realms to describe a minister to the reigning sovereign. The term indicates that the minister serves at His/Her Majesty's pleasure, and advises the monarch, or viceroy, on how to exercise the Crown prerogatives...

 in cabinet
Cabinet (government)
A Cabinet is a body of high ranking government officials, typically representing the executive branch. It can also sometimes be referred to as the Council of Ministers, an Executive Council, or an Executive Committee.- Overview :...

, even though the reader may refer to My Government. The address not only reports on the condition of the nation but also allows the monarch (or his or her representative) to outline the legislative agenda, for which the cooperation of parliament is needed, and national priorities.

Commonwealth realms

In the Commonwealth realm
Commonwealth Realm
A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state within the Commonwealth of Nations that has Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. The sixteen current realms have a combined land area of 18.8 million km² , and a population of 134 million, of which all, except about two million, live in the six...

s, the Speech From the Throne is the oration given before the legislature (whether both chambers of a bicameral
In the government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. Thus, a bicameral parliament or bicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of two chambers or houses....

 parliament or the single chamber of a unicameral
In government, unicameralism is the practice of having one legislative or parliamentary chamber. Thus, a unicameral parliament or unicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of one chamber or house...

 parliament) as part of a lavish affair marking the opening of parliament. In each case, the speech is written by the sitting cabinet
Cabinet (government)
A Cabinet is a body of high ranking government officials, typically representing the executive branch. It can also sometimes be referred to as the Council of Ministers, an Executive Council, or an Executive Committee.- Overview :...

, with or without the reader's participation, and outlines the legislative programme for the new parliamentary session.

In Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

, 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 at the State Opening of Parliament
State Opening of Parliament
In the United Kingdom, the State Opening of Parliament is an annual event that marks the commencement of a session of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It is held in the House of Lords Chamber, usually in November or December or, in a general election year, when the new Parliament first assembles...

; this occurs annually, either in November or December or soon after a general election. 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
Prince Andrew, Duke of York
Prince Andrew, Duke of York KG GCVO , is the second son, and third child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh...

 and Prince Edward
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex KG GCVO is the third son and fourth child of Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh...

, respectively having the Lord Chancellor
Lord Chancellor
The Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, or Lord Chancellor, is a senior and important functionary in the government of the United Kingdom. He is the second highest ranking of the Great Officers of State, ranking only after the Lord High Steward. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign...

 deliver the address instead.

In those countries that share with Britain 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
A viceroy is a royal official who runs a country, colony, or province in the name of and as representative of the monarch. The term derives from the Latin prefix vice-, meaning "in the place of" and the French word roi, meaning king. A viceroy's province or larger territory is called a viceroyalty...

, the governor-general
A Governor-General, is a vice-regal person of a monarch in an independent realm or a major colonial circonscription. Depending on the political arrangement of the territory, a Governor General can be a governor of high rank, or a principal governor ranking above "ordinary" governors.- Current uses...

, though the monarch can give the address in person; Queen Elizabeth II read the Throne Speech in the parliament of New Zealand
Parliament of New Zealand
The Parliament of New Zealand consists of the Queen of New Zealand and the New Zealand House of Representatives and, until 1951, the New Zealand Legislative Council. The House of Representatives is often referred to as "Parliament".The House of Representatives usually consists of 120 Members of...

 in 1954, the parliament of Australia
Parliament of Australia
The Parliament of Australia, also known as the Commonwealth Parliament or Federal Parliament, is the legislative branch of the government of Australia. It is bicameral, largely modelled in the Westminster tradition, but with some influences from the United States Congress...

 in 1954 and 1974, and the parliament of Canada
Parliament of Canada
The Parliament of Canada is the federal legislative branch of Canada, seated at Parliament Hill in the national capital, Ottawa. Formally, the body consists of the Canadian monarch—represented by her governor general—the Senate, and the House of Commons, each element having its own officers and...

 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
Edward VIII of the United Kingdom
Edward VIII was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth, and Emperor of India, from 20 January to 11 December 1936.Before his accession to the throne, Edward was Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay...

 (later King Edward VIII), read the Speech From the Throne in the Canadian parliament. In the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

, the governor-general
Governor-General of the Irish Free State
The Governor-General was the representative of the King in the 1922–1937 Irish Free State. Until 1927 he was also the agent of the British government in the Irish state. By convention the office of Governor-General was largely ceremonial...

 delivered the Governor-General's Address to Dáil Éireann, which, unusually, was delivered in the lower house of parliament. Only two speeches were ever given, in 1922 and 1923.

For the legislatures of Australia's states
States and territories of Australia
The Commonwealth of Australia is a union of six states and various territories. The Australian mainland is made up of five states and three territories, with the sixth state of Tasmania being made up of islands. In addition there are six island territories, known as external territories, and a...

 and Canada's provinces
Provinces and territories of Canada
The provinces and territories of Canada combine to make up the world's second-largest country by area. There are ten provinces and three territories...

, a Throne Speech is also performed to outline local legislative plans. In Canada, it is not clear that it would be constitutional for anyone but the relevant lieutenant governor
Lieutenant Governor (Canada)
In Canada, a lieutenant governor is the viceregal representative in a provincial jurisdiction of the Canadian monarch and head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, who resides predominantly in her oldest realm, the United Kingdom...

, as representative of the sovereign in right of the respective province
Monarchy in the Canadian provinces
The monarchy of Canada forms the core of each Canadian provincial jurisdiction's Westminster-style parliamentary democracy, being the foundation of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government in each province...

, to perform this task. In Australia, the governor of a state
Governors of the Australian states
The Governors of the Australian states are the representatives of the Queen of Australia in each of that country's six states. The Governors perform the same constitutional and ceremonial functions at the state level as does the Governor-General of Australia at the national level...

 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.

In British overseas territories, the relevant governor delivers the speech. In Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

, the Governor's address was termed the Policy Address
Policy address
Policy address is the annual address by the Chief Executive of Hong Kong . It used to be addressed in October, on the opening of the Legislative Council...

during Chris Patten
Chris Patten
Christopher Francis Patten, Baron Patten of Barnes, CH, PC , is the last Governor of British Hong Kong, a former British Conservative politician, and the current chairman of the BBC Trust....

's governorship. The tradition has preserved to date, although Britain handed over the territory to the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 in 1997. Responsible government
Responsible government
Responsible government is a conception of a system of government that embodies the principle of parliamentary accountability which is the foundation of the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy...

 was never granted; the governor remained head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

 until 1997, when the rôle as head of the region and head of government was taken up by the chief executive.

The address is followed by a debate and vote in both houses or the one house of parliament. 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
Motion of no confidence
A motion of no confidence is a parliamentary motion whose passing would demonstrate to the head of state that the elected parliament no longer has confidence in the appointed government.-Overview:Typically, when a parliament passes a vote of no...

, which, if lost, would result in the end of that government's mandate.

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 British House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

, the other business raised is by tradition the Outlawries Bill
Outlawries Bill
A Bill for the more effectual preventing clandestine Outlawries, usually referred as Outlawries Bill, is customarily the first bill on the agenda of the United Kingdom's House of Commons at the start of each session of Parliament.-Ceremonial purpose:...

. In the Canadian House of Commons
Canadian House of Commons
The House of Commons of Canada is a component of the Parliament of Canada, along with the Sovereign and the Senate. The House of Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 308 members known as Members of Parliament...

, the bill considered is Bill C-1
Bills C-1 and S-1
Bills C-1 and S-1 are pro forma bills introduced in the House of Commons and Senate respectively at the opening of each session of the Parliament of Canada. The bills are given a first reading and are then never proceeded with further. Being pro forma pieces of legislation, introducing them is...

an Act respecting the Administration of Oaths of Office, while in the Senate, it is Bill S-1
Bills C-1 and S-1
Bills C-1 and S-1 are pro forma bills introduced in the House of Commons and Senate respectively at the opening of each session of the Parliament of Canada. The bills are given a first reading and are then never proceeded with further. Being pro forma pieces of legislation, introducing them is...

, an Act Relating to Railways. In Australia and New Zealand, by contrast, no pro forma
Pro forma
The term pro forma is a term applied to practices or documents that are done as a pure formality, perfunctory, or seek to satisfy the minimum requirements or to conform to a convention or doctrine...

bills are introduced; there, the respective houses of representatives instead consider some brief and non-controversial business items before debating the Address in Reply.

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. 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
Scottish Parliament
The Scottish Parliament is the devolved national, unicameral legislature of Scotland, located in the Holyrood area of the capital, Edinburgh. The Parliament, informally referred to as "Holyrood", is a democratically elected body comprising 129 members known as Members 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

Other monarchies, such as the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 (Prince's Day
Prinsjesdag is the day on which the reigning monarch of the Netherlands addresses a joint session of the Dutch Senate and House of Representatives in the Ridderzaal or Hall of Knights in The Hague. The Speech from the Throne sets out the main features of government policy for the coming...

) and Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

, have similar throne speech ceremonies. In Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, the monarch gives a short address followed by the prime minister's statement of government policy. In Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, the Emperor
Emperor of Japan
The Emperor of Japan is, according to the 1947 Constitution of Japan, "the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people." He is a ceremonial figurehead under a form of constitutional monarchy and is head of the Japanese Imperial Family with functions as head of state. He is also the highest...

 makes only a short speech of greeting during the Diet
Diet of Japan
The is Japan's bicameral legislature. It is composed of a lower house, called the House of Representatives, and an upper house, called the House of Councillors. Both houses of the Diet are directly elected under a parallel voting system. In addition to passing laws, the Diet is formally...

 opening ceremony; he does not refer to any government policies, instead allowing the prime minister to address political matters. In Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, the King makes a speech at a joint session in the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, advising the National Assembly
National Assembly of Thailand
The National Assembly of Thailand or the Parliament of Thailand is the legislative branch of the government of Thailand. The National Assembly of Thailand is a bicameral body, consisting of two chambers: the upper house, , and the lower house,...

 in their work.

Many republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

s also hold a yearly event in which the president
A president is a leader of an organization, company, trade union, university, or country.Etymologically, a president is one who presides, who sits in leadership...

 gives a speech to a joint session of the legislature, such as the State of the Union Address
State of the Union Address
The State of the Union is an annual address presented by the President of the United States to the United States Congress. The address not only reports on the condition of the nation but also allows the president to outline his legislative agenda and his national priorities.The practice arises...

 given by the President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....


See also

  • State of the Nation (disambiguation)
    State of the Nation (disambiguation)
    State of the Nation may refer to:* "State of the Nation with Jessica Soho", a television news program* "State of the Nation ", a song by New Order* "State of the Nation ", album by Industry...

  • National Day Rally
    National Day Rally
    The National Day Rally is an annual address that the Prime Minister of Singapore makes to the entire nation, on the second Sunday after August 9, the country's National Day...

  • July Monarchy
    July Monarchy
    The July Monarchy , officially the Kingdom of France , was a period of liberal constitutional monarchy in France under King Louis-Philippe starting with the July Revolution of 1830 and ending with the Revolution of 1848...

  • Royal Christmas Message
    Royal Christmas Message
    The Queen's Christmas Message is a broadcast made by the sovereign of the Commonwealth realms to the Commonwealth of Nations each Christmas. The tradition began in 1932 with a radio broadcast by George V on the British Broadcasting Corporation Empire Service...


United Kingdom

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