LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II, flanked by an escort of 120 mounted guards in plumes, scarlet tunics and burnished breastplates, rode out from Buckingham Palace today and formally opened the new session of Parliament with a call for a law-and-order crackdown.
Scores of police officers lined the route to Parliament as the 59-year-old monarch waved to hundreds of well-wishers from the ornate Irish State Coach, pulled by four high-stepping grays.
At Westminster, heralds from the 500-year-old Royal College of Arms escorted the queen for the traditional procession through Parliament to the House of Lords.
From a gilded throne, she dispatched her personal messenger, Black Rod, to summon lawmakers from the House of Commons.
In accordance with tradition, the Commons' door was first slammed in the face of the messenger as a symbol of Parliament's independence. But after three knocks on the door, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and opposition Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock led more than 600 members into the upper chamber to stand before the queen.
In her address--known as the Queen's Speech even though it is written by Thatcher and her ministers--the monarch promised a law-and-order crackdown and the sale of state-owned British Gas.
The 10-minute speech contained no new moves to try to curb the Conservative government's biggest domestic problem--unemployment.
The focus of the Conservatives' no-surprises package was tough new powers for the police following outbreaks of serious rioting in racially mixed inner-city areas.
The proposed sale of British Gas is the biggest move yet in the Conservative government's sales of nationalized industries since Thatcher first won power in May, 1979. The sale is expected to raise more than $11.4 billion.