King Charles III opened Parliament on Tuesday, announcing the legislative priorities of the Conservative-controlled government.
The king, dressed in full royal regalia and joined by Queen Camilla, read out a speech drafted by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak outlining the Conservative Party’s agenda.
“My lords and members of the House of Commons, it is mindful of a legacy of service and devotion to this country set by my beloved mother, the late queen, this is the first King’s Speech in over 70 years,” King Charles said to open the address.
“The impact of COVID and the war in Ukraine have created significant long-term challenges for the United Kingdom,” King Charles said. “That is why my government’s priority is to make the difficult but necessary long-term decisions to change this country for the better.”
Because the monarch does not write his own speech for the opening of Parliament, it remains unclear with which of the Conservative Party’s policies and legislative goals King Charles agrees or disagrees.
The government’s promise of “future licensing of new oil and gas fields” was noted in the press as broadly opposed to the king’s championing of green energy.
This is expected to be the last session of Parliament called before the general election in 2025.
The U.K. government is currently pursuing a tougher position on crime, hoping to pass legislation that would lengthen sentences for serious crimes and force offenders to face victims.
The law enforcement agenda also seeks to expand authorities’ access to citizens’ personal data, hold tech companies responsible for consumer security, and push for preventative anti-terror planning.
One policy goal pushed by Sunak is a gradual move toward a total ban on smoking. The prime minister announced earlier this year the campaign to outlaw tobacco sales for anyone born after January 2009.
King Charles also tipped his hat to the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, championing the U.K.’s continued involvement in Ukraine and Israel.
“My ministers will work closely with international partners to support Ukraine, strengthen NATO and address the most pressing security challenges,” the king said. “This includes the consequences of the barbaric acts of terrorism against the people of Israel, facilitating humanitarian support into Gaza and supporting the cause of peace and stability in the Middle East.”