Hey Americans, it's the Queen's Speech on Wednesday!
Questions like “why would I have heard of something that happens in the UK?" or “what the fuck is a Queen’s Speech?"
Also, people listen to the Queen? That doesn't sound very American. Isn't it, like, 2016?
Basically, the Queen's Speech is the thing that happens at the opening of the UK's parliament every year. It is a cornerstone of British democracy, and as such it makes absolutely no sense.
The point of the speech is for the government to explain what its policies are going to be and what laws it's going to pass over the next year, hopefully.
But because Britain is kind of confused about who is actually in charge, the prime minister doesn't get to make the speech. No. It's THE GODDAMN QUEEN.
This is because ages ago we had a war between parliament and the monarchy about who was better.
So yeah, about once a year the Queen has to go to parliament to tell the government what the government has told her to tell it that it is going to do.
So anyway, before the Queen rocks up in parliament on the day of her big speech, these men — the YEOMEN OF THE GUARD — have a very important job, which they do in very stupid hats.
Their important job is to have a quick check of the cellars for some bombs, which they do by candlelight, which is frankly not the best way to check for bombs, is it?
Also, another important point about the YEOMEN OF THE GUARD is that they wear these stupid-ass shoes.
Anyway the YEOMEN OF THE GUARD do a symbolic check of the cellars for Guy Fawkes twats, in case anybody wants to blow up parliament like in 1605.
After the YEOMEN are done checking for Guy Fawkes twats, the Queen rocks up in this motherfucking carriage like, "Everyone look at me, I'm a motherfucking monarch."
When she's done with her fun carriage the Queen then walks up in the club like:
Wait, did you say "HOUSE OF LORDS"? Is that like the lord I pray to when I'm feeling guilty?
These guys are also there. They are Britain's top judges. They actually wear these wigs.
Right here's a great bit of the Queen's Speech, saddle up. Are you ready? Good. OK. This man, Americans, is called Black Rod.
OK, his full title is "Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod", which obviously makes a lot more sense, but everybody calls him Black Rod.
Here's Black Rod tappin' that door.
Wait, why is he called Black Rod?
Black Rod is not alone though! Also there are people with job titles like Fitzalan Pursuivant Extraordinary, Rouge Croix Pursuivant and Maltravers Herald Extraordinary.
Anyway, after Black Rod is done banging, all the MPs have to walk slowly through parliament to the House of Lords to hear the Queen. On the way they have to make awkward small talk with their political opponents, like the worst dinner party ever.
For her special speech, the Queen gets to wear her Imperial State Crown, instead of just her regular, day-to-day, business-casual crown.
Crown in place, the Queen then actually gives the speech. You may think that this is where things get normal. Nope.
Also until a few years ago, the speech that she gave was written on...goatskin. Like, the actual skin of a goat.
It is thought that the goatskin was replaced a few years ago with “goatskin parchment paper”, which may or may not be (but is probably not) made out of actual goat. But still, the paper it is written on is so posh that it takes several days for the ink to dry, which means they don't get to do any last-minute changes even if they really want to.
Also while the Queen gives her speech, Prince Philip (her hubby), the Prince of Wales (her son), and the Duchess of Cornwall (her son's bae) have to sit there doing nothing but pretending to be interested, like total mugs.
OK, but wait. There's more. While all this is going on, at the same time as the speech there's this nonsense going on across town at Buckingham Palace.
Yes, hostage. During the Queen’s Speech a member of parliament is actually HELD HOSTAGE in Buckingham Palace until the Queen has done her business, as leverage in case she's, like, murdered.
Again, this is a holdover tradition from when British politics was more murdery! In 1649, after the defeat of the royalists in the English Civil War, the victorious parliamentarians murdered the crap out of King Charles I after finding him guilty of treason.
Anyway after the speech is over and the hostage has been released (or murdered), the MPs will debate the things that the Queen said, for ages.
They begin this debate with something that is called, we shit you not, the "Humble Address".
Yes, they're humbly thanking the Queen for giving them a speech they wrote for her.