Prince Charles, the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and heir apparent to the British throne, led the state opening of the British Parliament on Tuesday, filling in for his mother as she continues to recover from health problems that started last fall.

The speech, written by the British government, highlighted key parts of the legislative agenda British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes to achieve in the year, including new laws and reforms related to transportation, mental healthcare, animal welfare, improvement in the economic hardships in the United Kingdom, and support for Ukraine during its war with Russia.


"In these challenging times, her majesty's government will play a leading role in defending democracy and freedom across the world, including continuing to support the people of Ukraine," Charles said in the speech. "The continued success and integrity of the whole of the United Kingdom is of paramount importance to her majesty's government, including the internal economic bonds between all of its parts."

Charles added that a "Bill of Rights" will also be introduced this year to help restore the balance of power between the courts and Parliament.

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Britain's Prince Charles; Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; and Britain's Prince William proceed behind the Imperial State Crown through the Royal Gallery for the state opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Hannah McKay/AP

The speech also emphasized the U.K.'s role on the global stage, including promises to work with NATO, take economic advantage of Britain's exit from the European Union, and continue to invest in the country's armed forces. The agenda will now go to the floor of Parliament, with key parts debated over the next several days.

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Britain's Prince Charles, center, reads the queen's speech as he sits next to the Imperial State Crown with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, right, and Britain's Prince William during the state opening of Parliament, in the Houses of Parliament, in London, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Ben Stansall/AP

The prince's speech this year was the first time he opened Parliament, but he has attended the ceremony with his mother in previous years in preparation for his ascension to the throne. However, members of the royal family have accepted increasingly larger roles in the queen's schedule this year as the 96-year-old monarch continues to face health issues. Prior to this year's opening, the queen had only missed two other speeches, given by the lord chancellor in 1959 and 1963, when she was pregnant with Princes Andrew and Edward.


The queen's grandson, Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, also attended the ceremony. William is second in line to the throne, with his son George in third.