Queen swaps ceremonial robe for COVID-appropriate day dress at first appearance since Prince Philips death

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The Queen was forced to ditch her ceremonial gown today in exchange for a simple blue day dress and hat at the State Opening of Parliament.

Breaking tradition, the Queen did not wear the long crimson velvet Robe of State to the ceremony, which marks her first public engagement since the death of Prince Philip.

Her Royal Highness opted for a parred down look as the usual pomp and ceremony were deemed not in line with the current COVID restrictions.

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In other amendments to the usual arrangements, the 95-year-old travelled by car to the House of Lords rather than by horse-drawn carriage.

Ordinarily, the monarch travels to the Palace of Westminster in a State coach, escorted by the Household Cavalry.

The Imperial State Crown is traditionally driven to the Palace of Westminster in its own State Coach, however, today it arrived by car. It is the crown worn by the Queen on her coronation day in 1953.

The reduced number of MPs present wore masks and had all been tested for the virus ahead of today's ceremony.

The parliament website confirmed yesterday: “This year's ceremony will be a reduced, COVID-secure event”.

The Queen arrived to give her speech setting out the government’s agenda for the next year.

The State Opening of Parliament happens ahead of every parliamentary session where the Queen reads out the government’s plans and future legislation.

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A spokesperson for No 10 said: “While we are still in the middle of a pandemic this Queen’s Speech will look quite different, but it is important we take forward our plans and deliver policies to improve the lives of people across the country through a new parliamentary session.”

Since 1952, the Queen has attended every opening of Parliament except for the two occasions she was pregnant with Prince Andrew in 1959 and Prince Edward in 1963.

Today she was joined by her son Prince Charles who has supported her at the ceremonial event since his father retired in 2018.

Charles also dressed down for the event wearing a morning suit rather than a Service uniform which would usually be worn for the event.

The Queen hasn’t delayed returning to work following the death of her husband the Duke of Edinburgh last month.

Following an eight-day period of mourning the Queen made her first public appearance holding two virtual royal audiences over a video call from Windsor Castle.

Today marks her second public appearance since His Royal Highness was laid to rest on 17 April.

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