Britain’s Elizabeth Gives Annual ‘Queen’s Speech’ to Parliament

Posted May 9th, 2012 at 11:00 am (UTC-5)
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Queen Elizabeth has given her annual “Queen's Speech” to Britain's parliament, setting out the country's legislative agenda for the next year.

Hundreds of people lined the streets outside parliament Wednesday to see the queen's horse-drawn carriage parade from Buckingham Palace in a lavish ceremony including gleaming coaches, sparkling diamonds and cannon fire.

From a throne in the House of Lords, the queen said the first priority would be to reduce the deficit and restore economic stability through spending cuts. She said the government will also reform parliament's non-elected House of Lords.

Britain's two-year-old coalition government suffered heavy losses in local elections last week, with voters unhappy about spending cuts that have seen welfare payments trimmed and thousands of public sector jobs cut.

Among other initiatives, Queen Elizabeth said a National Crime Agency, modeled on the U.S. FBI, will be created to fight organized crime and boost border security.

The queen has no role in drafting her speech, which is written by Britain's government. All proposed bills must be debated and approved by parliament before any can become law.