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Heat is on as hundreds pack into small House of Lords chamber to listen

IT IS rare to see an entire row of women all wearing tiaras and elbow-length white gloves, especially at 10.30 in the morning.

Rarer still to see two rows of them.

But then how many ceremonies feature a person whose title is the "Gold Stick in Waiting" and another called the "Master of the Horse"?

The pomp that surrounds the Queen's Speech divides audiences.

One peer, Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, announced yesterday that he intended to boycott the event in protest at its expense.

But others feel that the opening of a new Westminster parliament, and the new programme of legislation that accompanies it, should be properly marked.

But what no one mentions about the Queen's Speech is the heat.

Over the course of the hour before the Queen begins to speak hundreds of peers, ambassadors, bishops, law lords, heralds, ladies in waiting, page boys and MPs pack into the quite small chamber of the House of Lords.

Even well before the monarch had arrived the heat had become quite difficult.

As he took his seat alongside his mother Prince Charles became increasingly red in the face.

In the end it was too much for one page boy, dressed, like many of those around him, in a long, heavy red coat.

There was an almighty thump as the lad fainted and hit the ground just yards from Her Majesty's feet.

Within seconds two officials were hovering over him checking if he could be revived.

When they had ascertained that he could not they grabbed hold of his arms and legs, lifted him horizontally and carried him through a door directly behind them out of the chamber.

While Camilla looked on concerned, the Queen, like the consummate professional that she is, had just the slightest pause before carrying on with her speech. Rumours that the particular section that did for the page boy included the words "civil service reform" were, alas, unfounded.

Had the youngster been able to hold on for just a few more minutes his ordeal would have been over.

For this year's Queen's Speech was unusually swift.

With just 11 Bills to set out there was not quite as much as usual for the Queen to dwell on.

Labour MP Dennis Skinner's annual heckle (now as much a part of the establishment pomp as the Queen's carriage) was a quip that it was the "Coalition's last stand".

By one account the speech itself lasted for just under 10 minutes.

Some of the women present could have been forgiven for feeling wondering if they had spent more time dusting off their tiaras.

Contextual targeting label: 
The Royals

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