Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

The Queen’s Speech has been delayed because it ‘has’ to be written on goatskin parchment


Britain is verifiably weird. We all know that. There’s the headline-event eccentricity (cheese rolling, Morris dancing, Tube parties) as well as smaller bouts of strangeness, from our love of innuendoes to our obsession with the ‘right’ way to drink tea.

But perhaps weirdest of all are the arcane rules, regulations and customs of British democracy – and this week, the spotlight is shining firmly on the Queen’s Speech.

It was announced on Monday that the speech from the throne, which marks the state opening of parliament, has been delayed from its scheduled date of 19 June. Speculation was rife that this was because the Government had not yet managed to firm up the details of a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party.

However, government sources have now claimed that the pushback is due to a very unusual (and eye-rollingly British) reason: the speech has to be written on goatskin parchment, and the ink won’t be dry in time for the big day.

Read more: “The Tories are bartering with women’s bodies and it’s not OK”

Despite its entirely misleading name, the ‘goatskin’ parchment the Queen’s Speech is written on is not actually the skin of a goat. According to the Cabinet Office, it’s actually thick, high-quality archival paper, guaranteed to last at least 500 years.


Queen Elizabeth II leaving Parliament following her speech in May 2016.

While it was traditionally made from goatskin, the modern version contains no animal products at all (although it does bear a goat-shaped watermark, which is kind of cute). The BBC’s Nick Robinson reports that the phrase ‘Going goat’ is still used in Whitehall to describe the moment when the Queen’s Speech is finalised and sent off to the Palace for Her Majesty’s approval.

This year, however, ‘going goat’ is proving to be more difficult than usual. The annual Queen’s Speech sets out the government’s legislative plans for the coming year, and the Telegraph reports that a Conservative majority and a Labour majority speech had both been prepped ahead of the election on 8 June.

Read more: Everything you need to know about the Democratic Unionist Party

Nobody had prepared for the eventuality of a shock hung parliament, leading to a minority Conservative government propped up by the DUP – meaning that a new speech is still being hammered out, and is yet to be written on

Twitter reacted with a mixture of astonishment, delight and derision to the news that the Queen’s Speech is being delayed because of goatskin.

Some thought that it all seemed like a little too much of a convenient excuse for the Conservatives...

While others used the opportunity to highlight the DUP’s homophobic, anti-women policies.

Sigh. Never change, Britain. Or, you know, do.

Images: Rex Features


jk rowling.jpg

Everyone needs to read JK Rowling’s Twitter warning about Theresa May

angela eagle.jpg

Britain breaks record with the most LGBTQ MPs ever


A 106-year-old woman was denied the right to vote in the Election


Ireland will hold a referendum on abortion in 2018

Here’s everything you need to know about what could be a landmark moment for women’s rights

by Moya Crockett
26 Sep 2017

29 autumn tattoos that capture the magic of the golden season

Think woodland illustrations and sunset hues

by Megan Murray
26 Sep 2017

The greatest life lessons from The Princess Bride

It's been 30 years since it first hit the big screen

by Susan Devaney
26 Sep 2017

These are the four skills you should highlight on your CV

According to the world's top CEOs

by Helen Brown
26 Sep 2017

This woman’s post encourages others to call out sexual harassment

“He tilted his phone up... enough for me to see the picture of my ass”

by Amy Swales
26 Sep 2017

Trump rates Angelina Jolie and Anne Hathaway in newly released tapes

“I don’t think she’s got good skin. I don’t think she’s got a great face.”

by Amy Swales
26 Sep 2017

Depressingly, this TV moment attracted the most complaints of 2017

Don’t we all have bigger things to worry about than this?

by Kayleigh Dray
26 Sep 2017

This TV show has been voted reigning champion of the last 20 years

And no, it's not Friends

by Megan Murray
26 Sep 2017

Everything you need to know about Pretty Woman: The Musical

We already can’t wait for this

by Moya Crockett
26 Sep 2017

Why you'll never fancy that person who REALLY likes you

According to experts

by Nicola Colyer
26 Sep 2017