The Queen will undertake a dressed-down State Opening of Parliament for the first time in more than 40 years, as ceremonial plans suffer major disruption because of the general election.
The Queen will not wear her Imperial State Crown or robes for this year’s State Opening, with the annual service of the Order of the Garter also cancelled for the first time since 1984.
The changes to the Royal schedule, announced by Buckingham Palace today, will see the State Opening of Parliament take place on June 19, with the Order of the Garter service previously in the diary for the same day now cancelled.
Some observers were quick to note that the timing would allow the Queen to attend Royal Ascot, which runs from June 20th to 24th.
Sources said the 19th was the first suitable date after the election, with a quick turnaround of 11 days agreed to maintain continuity.
For only the second time in her reign, the Queen will wear “day dress” and a hat for the State Opening of Parliament, abandoning the traditional Robes of State.
She will travel in car rather than by carriage, with her heavy crown being carried by an officer of state along with the Sword of State and Cap of Maintenance, symbols of her power and authority.
The Duke of Edinburgh will accompany the Queen wearing a morning coat rather than full naval uniform.
The Queen's procession to the Chamber of the House of Lords, where she takes the throne and delivers her speech, will also be reduced, with no heralds present.
It is the first time since March 1974 that such a scaled-back ceremony has taken place, with the only other occasion following Labour leader Harold Wilson defeating Edward Heath in a snap election.
The changes, sources said, were down only to timing, with the Trooping of the Colour now falling on June 17 just two days before the State Opening of Parliament.
Both events usually feature a Sovereign's Escort from the Household Cavalry Regiment, with the Queen’s route flanked by hundreds of servicemen acting as street liners.
The proximity of the two major events would make the logistics of a normal State Opening too difficult, it is claimed, leaving too little time for rehearsal for an event of that scale.
The Order of the Garter annual service will be cancelled entirely; the third time it has happened in the Queen’s reign following a rail strike in 1955 and a 1984 date where there was no vacancy for a new knight to be appointed.
It is understood that postponing or rearranging the day was not considered possible, due to the number of dignitaries expected to attend.
The annual event staged at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle usually attracts hundreds of well-wishers who gather to watch the colourful spectacle of Garter Knights processing to the service.
The announcement immediately led to speculation that the changes would suit the Queen, who at 91 would have to endure wearing the famously heavy 2.5lb crown.
Last year, the Queen used a House of Lords lift for the first time, avoiding 26 stairs, in what was seen by many as a concession to her age.
But Royal sources insisted this year’s decisions were merely down to logistics, with a return to business as usual planned for next year.
A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said: “To allow Her Majesty to attend in support of the parliamentary and constitutional process, The Queen's programme of engagements has been revised.
“As a result, the annual service for the Order of the Garter, which had been due to take place on 19th June, has been cancelled. Knights of the Garter and others due to attend have been informed.
“Additionally, owing to the revised calendar, the State Opening of Parliament will take place with reduced ceremonial elements.”