The Spectator

Portrait of the week: The Queen’s Speech, Sinn Fein surge and an £184m lottery win

Portrait of the week: The Queen’s Speech, Sinn Fein surge and an £184m lottery win
Text settings


The Prince of Wales delivered the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament sitting on a throne next to the crown put on a table by Lord Cholmondeley. Prince Charles acted with the Duke of Cambridge as counsellors of state under the Regency Act 1937, since the Queen cannot walk easily; the other two counsellors, the Duke of York and Duke of Sussex, are not seen as fit to act in the role. The Speech mentioned 38 laws to level up, regenerate, bring safety online, secure ‘Brexit freedoms’ in the amending of legislation, regulate railways and ferries, promote heat pumps, prohibit protestors glueing themselves to buildings, deter puppy smuggling and enforce school registers, but nothing to stop the import of fur or foie gras. One person won a £184 million lottery prize.

Sinn Fein, with 27 seats out of 90, was left the largest party in the Northern Ireland Assembly, ahead of the Democratic Unionist party, with 25. The Alliance party increased its seats from eight to 17. In England, of 4,411 contested council seats, the Conservatives lost 336 but Labour gained only 22. Labour lost Hull to the Liberal Democrats, who also gained 37 councillors in Somerset. In London, the Conservatives lost Westminster, Wandsworth and Barnet to Labour. Lutfur Rahman was elected mayor of Tower Hamlets, where he had been removed from office in 2015 for electoral fraud. In Scotland, the Conservatives lost 63 councillors leaving them with 214 and Labour with 282; the Scottish National party increased its total a little to 453. In Wales, Labour improved, Plaid Cymru declined a little and the Conservatives lost more than 40 per cent of their seats.

Durham police decided after all to investigate under coronavirus laws an incident on 30 April 2021 in which Sir Keir Starmer was seen on video drinking beer from a bottle while colleagues gathered in the room to eat takeaways. ‘If the police decide to issue me with a fixed penalty notice,’ he said, ‘I would of course do the right thing and step down.’ In the seven days to 9 May, 1,512 people died with coronavirus, bringing total deaths (within 28 days of testing positive) to 176,424. Numbers with Covid remaining in hospital fell to about 10,000, the lowest since 2021. The Bank of England said that Britain faced a ‘sharp economic slowdown’ after it raised interest rates to 1 per cent from 0.75 per cent. Morrisons beat an offer from Zuber and Mohsin Issa to buy McColl’s convenience stores, with 1,100 shops, which entered administration. Chelsea football club agreed to its sale for £4.2 billion to a consortium led by Todd Boehly, co-owner of the LA Dodgers baseball team.


Old people, women and children were evacuated from the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol on which the Russians renewed their assault. Speaking from underground in the steelworks, Lieutenant Ilia Samoilenko said: ‘We are basically dead men. Most of us know this. It’s why we fight so fearlessly.’ A Russian bomb hit a school in Bilohorivka, Luhansk, killing 60 people. A missile hit a shopping centre in Odessa. Ukraine said it had retaken villages near Kharkiv. Refugees from Izyum, 75 miles from Kharkiv, mostly destroyed and occupied by Russia since 1 April, told of the horrors there; 44 bodies were found in the rubble of a block of flats shelled in early March. Grain and sunflower oil for export, stuck at Kherson, was spoiled.

In a Victory Day speech in Moscow marking the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, President Vladimir Putin of Russia said of Ukraine that ‘a clash with neo-Nazis and Banderites backed by the United States and their minions was unavoidable’. In a black and white video for the anniversary, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine accused Russia of implementing ‘a bloody reconstruction of Nazism’.

John Lee Ka-chiu, a police chief, was elected Hong Kong’s leader; there were no other candidates. Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos was elected president of the Philippines. Afghanistan’s Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue declared that women must cover their faces in public. The total in the world reported to have died with coronavirus reached 6,277,989, but the WHO said that excess mortality associated with Covid in 2020 and 2021 was between 13.3 million and 16.6 million. Violent street protests at the cost of living continued in Sri Lanka despite the resignation of Mahinda Rajapaksa as prime minister. An explosion at the Saratoga hotel, Havana, perhaps caused by gas, killed 26. A picture of Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol fetched $195 million. CSH