By Tara John
June 12, 2017

The Queen’s Speech, which outlines legislative priorities for the British government in the coming year, has reportedly been delayed in part by the arcane tradition of writing it on thick goatskin parchment.

British media reported that the speech would not go ahead as planned on June 19, in a bid to give Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party time to make a coalition deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), after May’s party lost its parliamentary majority in last week’s snap election.

A government source told the Guardian that another reason for the delay is because the speech— which is usually announced by the Queen in the House of Lords (the upper house of Parliament)— is written in ink on goatskin parchment, which takes several days to dry and has to be written several days in advance.

Historically, the speech would be written on vellum, which is made from actual calf-skin, with ink that would take three days to dry. Journalist Ned Donovan suggests if the practice still existed an accomplished scrivener would be able “to rub stuff out” if any changes had to be made.


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