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The long and the short of the Queen’s Speech

The longest speeches have all come under Labour governments.

Elizabeth II delivers the Queen’s Speech in the House of Lords in 2017 (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Elizabeth II delivers the Queen’s Speech in the House of Lords in 2017 (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

By Ian Jones, PA

The length of the Queen’s Speech has varied considerably during Elizabeth II’s reign.

The longest was in November 1999, when she had to deliver a speech lasting 1,751 words.

The text, which took more than 15 minutes to read out, was the third Queen’s Speech of Tony Blair’s Labour government.

The shortest came exactly a decade later, in November 2009.

Totalling just 735 words, it took six-and-a-half minutes to deliver and was the third and final Queen’s Speech of Gordon Brown’s Labour government.

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(PA graphic)

The longest Queen’s Speeches have all been under Labour prime ministers, with Tony Blair’s 1997-2001 government accounting for three of the top five.

Among the five shortest speeches is the first one ever delivered by Elizabeth II, which took place in November 1952 and was just 799 words long.

This week’s Queen’s Speech will be the first for more than two years.

The last one took place in June 2017. It was the only Queen’s Speech of Theresa May’s premiership, lasting 1,044 words and it took nine minutes to deliver.

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(PA graphic)

This will also be the 67th Queen’s Speech of Elizabeth II’s reign – but not all of them have been delivered by the monarch in person.

In 1959 and 1963, the Queen did not attend the State Opening of Parliament, when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew and Prince Edward respectively.

On these occasions, the speech was read on her behalf by the Lord Chancellor.

Five longest speeches:

1. November 1999 1,751 words
2. November 1998 1,609 words
3. November 1975 1,599 words
4. May 1997 1,564 words
5. November 1978 1,549 words

Five shortest speeches:

1. November 2009 735 words
2. December 2008 747 words
3. November 1952 799 words
4. November 2007 831 words
5. May 2012 840 words

PA

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