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Queen's Speech: Prince Charles addresses House of Lords

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Speaking on behalf of the Queen, Prince Charles today made a prominent plea for the continuation of the Union in an apparent dig at SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and Sinn Fein chief Michelle O’Neill. He said the “continued success and integrity of the whole of the United Kingdom is of paramount importance” to the UK.

The future King’s remarks come after Sinn Fein became the largest party following an historic election result at the weekend. This entitles Sinn Fein to have one of its representatives take up the post of First Minister there – which would be the first time a non-unionist politician has held Northern Ireland’s top post.

The election result could add to the turbulent course ahead for the UK as Sinn Fein hopes to prepare for a divisive referendum on the reunification of Ireland.

While Ms Sturgeon is set to go full steam ahead for a second independence referendum to rip the UK apart after her SNP party made significant gains at the local elections.

 

Ms Sturgeon has said her Government will soon start refreshing the “very positive case” for Scottish independence, as she insisted recent election results showed there is a “growing sense that the UK in its current state is not serving the needs of Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland”.

She spoke out after Sinn Fein won the most seats, 27 out of 90, in last week’s Stormont elections.

While Ms Sturgeon stressed there were “different factors at play” in the elections in Scotland and Northern Ireland, she claimed it was now “obviously the case that there are very big fundamental questions being asked in every part of the UK, about UK governance in the years ahead”.

She added: “I think there’s a growing sense that the UK in its current state is not serving the needs of Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland or perhaps even England appropriately.

“And I think we will see big changes in the years to come and I’m convinced one of those changes will be Scottish independence.”

She congratulated Sinn Fein, which supports a united Ireland, on its success, with Ms Sturgeon saying: “For them to become the largest party in Northern Ireland is, as you know, a development of truly historic proportions.”

Although royals are supposed to remain politically neutral, Prince Charles did not hesitate to make his mother’s thoughts on the future of the UK clear.

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In the traditional Queen’s Speech, read for the first time in 59 years by Prince Charles rather than Queen Elizabeth due to her mobility problems, he said: “The continued success and integrity of the whole of the United Kingdom is of paramount importance to my Government, including the internal economic bonds between all of its parts.

“My Government will prioritise support for the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and its institutions, including through legislation to address the legacy of the past.

“My Government will ensure the constitution is defended. My ministers will restore the balance of power between the legislature and the courts by introducing a Bill of Rights.”

His warning comes amid reports the Queen is planning to spend a lot more time in Scotland to strengthen support for the Union.

A royal source told The Sun on Sunday: “Protocol prevents her from expressing a political opinion but she wants the people of Scotland to know of her wish that they reject independence.”

Meanwhile, members of the Firm are set to travel to Scotland to celebrate the Queen’s upcoming Platinum Jubilee.

Heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles and Prince William took centre stage amid the pomp and pageantry of the opening of parliament on Tuesday, replacing the 96-year-old Queen Elizabeth who missed the grand set-piece event with health issues.

With the Queen forced to withdraw for the first time in almost 60 years, Charles stepped in to read out the government’s legislative agenda at the Palace of Westminster, the first time he has taken on such a major constitutional duty.

Charles, seated beside the queen’s crown and flanked by his eldest son William and his wife Camilla, delivered the speech to MPs and lords dressed in red ceremonial robes.

The Queen has only missed the occasion twice during her 70-year reign – in 1959, and 1963, when she was pregnant with sons Andrew and Edward.

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