Dennis Skinner’s republican quips during the State Opening of Parliament have become as much of a tradition as the rest of the occasion.
Today, as the Yeoman of the Guard (Black Rod is ill) summoned MPs to hear the Queen’s Speech in the “other place”, the Labour MP joked: “No royal commissions this week,” a none-too-subtle reference to Sarah Ferguson’s unfortunate offer of access to her ex-husband, Prince Andrew, in exchange for cash.
So, in tribute to the Beast of Bolsover’s verbal agility, here is a selection of his finest Queen’s Speech jokes from the past two decades.
Skinner quipped: “It tolls for thee, Maggie”, a reference to Margaret Thatcher’s imminent departure.
As pressure grew on the Queen to pay tax on her personal income, Skinner ordered Black Rod: “Tell her to pay her taxes.”
Skinner cried out: “New Labour, New Black Rod”, an adaptation of the campaign slogan “New Labour, New Britain”.
Skinner shouted out, “Tell her to read the Guardian” after the newspaper launched a new campaign calling for Britain to become a republic.
Following a series of break-ins at Buckingham Palace, Skinner asked: “Did she lock the door behind her?”
In reference to the new film The Queen, Skinner asked Black Rod: “Have you got Helen Mirren on standby?”
After two protected hen harriers were shot dead on the royal family’s Sandringham estate, Skinner cried out: “Who shot the harriers?” Prince Harry was questioned by the police but no charges were brought.
Skinner quipped: “Any Tory moles at the palace?”, a reference to the recent arrest of the Tory MP Damian Green in connection with Home Office leaks.
As Black Rod arrived in the Commons, Skinner joked: “Royal expenses are on the way.”
PS: If you missed it at the time, you can read our special anti-monarchy issue in full here.