Traditionally, the U.K. Parliament starts off every year with a speech by the current monarch, which outlines the direction the ruling party wants to take the government.
But the queen’s speech might get delayed this year — and the government says paper is partially why.
Turns out the queen can’t just print out her speech on a few sheets of A4. It has to be written on special goatskin paper — which, despite the name, doesn’t involve actual goats.
The special paper ensures the speech will last longer in Parliament’s national archives — but it also means the ink will need a few days to dry.
Normally this isn’t a problem because both major parties already know what they want their government to look like. But the surprising election results have forced the ruling Conservative Party to negotiate with a regional party in Northern Ireland to maintain its majority.
Those talks are still going, which means it’s too early to start putting a government together on paper — at least, on archival goat paper.
What is goatskin paper?
Goatskin paper is a thick and ornate parchment on which the Queen’s Speech is written.
While it was traditionally made from real goat skin, its modern form contains no animal hide at all.
But it keeps its name because it has a watermark in the shape of a goat.
Westminster veterans still refer to “going goat” to mark the moment the Speech needs to be ready by so that the ink can have time to dry before being sent to the Queen for her approval.
Why is it used in the Queen’s Speech?
The posh paper is used for the special occasion of the State Opening of Parliament.
On it is written the Queen’s Speech, which sets out the Government’s plans and legislative priorities for the year ahead.
But after the 2017 snap election led to a hung Parliament, it was reported that Theresa May would push back the speech from the original date of June 19.
It was thought she needed time to organise a deal with Northern Ireland’s DUP to support the Conservatives in a minority government in case they made ultimatums over Tory policies.