- Government moved State Opening of Parliament due to lack of policies
- Changes mean Queen, 87, will have a gruelling week of engagements
- She has to speak at opening or risk constitutional crisis, ministers warn
- MPs accused David Cameron of putting 'needless strain' on the monarch
- Buckingham Palace admits June is 'extremely busy' for Queen and Philip
- She now has to give speech and host garden party before going to France
David Cameron’s decision to delay the State Opening of Parliament by a month because he has run out of policies has caused a clash with Buckingham Palace – after courtiers warned it could overburden the Queen, who turns 88 next month.
They objected after the Prime Minister told the Palace he intended to move the Queen’s Speech to June 4, giving her and Prince Philip – 93 on June 10 –just 24 hours to recover before they travel to France for a three-day visit to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
Downing Street then suggested bringing the Queen’s Speech forward a day to June 3 – only for the Palace to point out it would clash with a garden party she is hosting.
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David Cameron's changes to the State Opening of Parliament mean the Queen faces an 'extremely busy' week
After what a Palace spokesman last night described as a ‘constructive dialogue’, the Queen eventually agreed to June 3 after being told there was no other date available and that failing to choose one would cause a constitutional crisis.
It means the Queen will face a gruelling five days.
She will attend the State Opening of Parliament and read the Queen’s Speech, which sets out the Government’s legislation for the coming year.
She will then return to the Palace that afternoon and host the garden party a couple of hours later.
After a single day off, dominated by briefings on her D-Day trip, she and the Duke of Edinburgh will set off for France.
The Coalition’s critics say its lack of policies has created a ‘zombie Parliament’, with most MPs attending Parliament for just a couple of days a week, and the Queen’s Speech being pushed back while Ministers think of ideas to fill it.
Political issues mean the Queen will have to speak in parliament on the day of a Palace garden party, shortly before she travels to France
MPs on all sides last night accused the Government of showing ‘poor manners’ to the Queen for forcing her to change her diary at short notice.
‘The Queen and Prince Philip have understandably scaled back their appearances because of their increasing age, yet the Government is putting them under needless strain to spare its own blushes,’ said one senior parliamentarian.
‘It is rude and disrespectful. Consideration for the Queen should take priority over political embarrassment.’
The news comes at a time when Royal officials have been trying to curb some of her more onerous responsibilities.
It was announced last year that the Queen and Prince Philip, who have both recently suffered illness, would be cutting back on their overseas travel; the visit to France will be one of just two foreign trips they carry out in 2014.
The government insists the Queen was given 'good notice' of the change of schedule, but Labour MP Chris Bryant (right) said ministers had 'failed to consult' the monarch
The Royal couple will travel to meet President Francois Hollande, staying at the Elysee Palace, attending state events in Paris and continuing on to Normandy for the commemorations on June 6.
Their visit will coincide with a mass parachute drop by 16 Air Assault Brigade to mark the liberation of Ranville, the first village to be freed from the Nazis in 1944. The event will be followed by a memorial service.
Last night a Palace source said the Government had told courtiers that the reason for the delay was to avoid a clash with the European elections in May. Sceptics, however, point out that the EU elections have been in the calendar for years.
A Palace spokesman would say only: ‘We understood why the Government wanted to move the date.’
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said 'constitutional proprieties' were extremely important to the Queen and her staff
When asked whether the Palace had objected to the Queen delivering the speech the day before she is due to travel, the spokesman said: ‘It is an extremely busy time.
‘We made it clear that the Queen would be leaving for the D-Day celebrations on the 5th, and had a very constructive dialogue on that basis. At all times we were guided by the constitutional proprieties.’
A Government spokesman said: ‘The June date has been in the diary for a while now and we made sure that the Palace was given good notice. We were aware that the Queen was planning to travel to the D-Day commemorations later that week.
‘We know the Queen has a very busy diary and we have been sensitive to that fact.’
Labour frontbench MP Chris Bryant said: ‘The Government had four years to work out when this year’s State Opening would take place, and the one person they failed to consult was the one without whom it could not take place – the Queen.
‘This may be a zombie Parliament, but even the undead normally show better manners.’
When The Mail on Sunday first revealed the delay, one Tory Minister said it had arisen because Mr Cameron had ‘ripped up’ the proposed programme of legislation, saying it was ‘not sexy enough’.