Addressing the UK parliament on the first day of a new session, Queen Elizabeth II has announced numerous measures that her government will be taking in light of recent developments in the world and in the country, especially the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are the key takeaways from the Queen's speech:
Recovery From the Pandemic
- A significant portion of the measures announced by Queen Elizabeth II related to dealing with the consequences of the pandemic and delivering a "national recovery".
- Namely, the monarch promised that the government will develop "opportunities" across the UK to support jobs, businesses, and public services.
- The Queen said that eight new freeports will be created to accommodate trade and help "regenerate" communities. In addition, the monarch promised that the first proposals for comprehensive social care reform will be brought before parliament.
- She separately addressed the issues the NHS has been facing, as the service has been heavily criticised for its "poor" performance in the early stages of the pandemic. The Queen announced additional funding for the NHS, which is to become more technologically advanced than before.
- According to the Queen, the government will capitalise on the successes of the vaccination campaign and will continue to ramp up NHS funding.
- The British monarch also promised that the nation will see the "fastest ever increase" in public funding for research and development and that a standalone "advanced research agency" will be established for these purposes.
Defending Elections and Countering 'Hostile' States
- Queen Elizabeth II additionally touched upon the topic of election meddling and foreign influence that purportedly took place in the past, telling parliament that a bill will be introduced to ensure the integrity of all future elections in the country.
- She announced legislation that will help counter "hostile activity" by foreign countries, without specifying either these states or the activities they're purportedly engaged in.
- The monarch said the government plans to increase funding for modernising the country's military. She further added that the UK plans to boost its commitment to the NATO alliance.
On Green Economy, Racial Disparity, and Immigration
- During her address, the Queen mentioned a variety of other issues that the UK is facing, ranging from racial discrimination to greenhouse gas emissions.
- She promised that the government will introduce concrete measures to help address ethnic and racial disparities in the country. At the same time, Queen Elizabeth II said 10 Downing Street will develop a "fairer" immigration system to strengthen the nation's borders.
- According to the monarch, London is also planning to ban conversion therapy – a procedure devised to revert or suppress a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.
- The Queen addressed climate change as well, saying the government is planning to establish a goal of net-zero greenhouse emissions to be achieved by 2050. She noted that the legislation will include binding environmental targets and that the government will be investing in green industries.