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'Gracious Address' By Queen Elizabeth II Won't Have All The Ceremonial Dress

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'Gracious Address' By Queen Elizabeth II Won't Have All The Ceremonial Dress

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'Gracious Address' By Queen Elizabeth II Won't Have All The Ceremonial Dress

'Gracious Address' By Queen Elizabeth II Won't Have All The Ceremonial Dress

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Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the royal robes, delivers the Queen's Speech during the State Opening of Parliament in central London, on May 18, 2016. She won't be wearing it when she gives her speech to Parliament this year, and NPR's Melissa Block will have to wait until 2018 for all the pageantry to return. Alastair Grant/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Alastair Grant/AFP/Getty Images

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the royal robes, delivers the Queen's Speech during the State Opening of Parliament in central London, on May 18, 2016. She won't be wearing it when she gives her speech to Parliament this year, and NPR's Melissa Block will have to wait until 2018 for all the pageantry to return.

Alastair Grant/AFP/Getty Images

It all started with vellum.

We were led to believe that Queen Elizabeth's speech opening a new session of the British parliament next week was being delayed because it had to be printed on vellum: a parchment made from the skin of a calf.

And, that ink on vellum takes quite a while to dry. Hence, the delay.

Fascinating! So British!

Well, it turns out, the Queen's speech used to be inked on vellum, but those days are long gone.

Now, it's printed on goatskin parchment. But don't be fooled: there is no actual goatskin in the Queen's goatskin.

Stay with me here.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip return to Buckingham Palace after attending the Houses of Parliament on May 18, 2016 in London, England. The State Opening of Parliament is the formal start of the parliamentary year. Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images hide caption

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Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip return to Buckingham Palace after attending the Houses of Parliament on May 18, 2016 in London, England. The State Opening of Parliament is the formal start of the parliamentary year.

Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Next week, when she addresses Parliament, the Queen will be holding thick, archival parchment which is called goatskin - but which does not contain animal hide.

And apparently, the ink on this goatskin WILL take several days to dry.

But apart from the problem of the extended drying time - the speech is being delayed for political reasons, too.

The Queen's Speech at the State Opening of Parliament lays out the government's agenda for the next session.

And, as you might imagine, that agenda is a bit up in the air since the Conservative Party failed to hold onto its majority in parliament, and is scrambling to build a coalition.

So: delays.

And what a crushing disappointment to learn that this year - the Queen will be dressing down for her speech - wearing just a day dress and hat, not the royal robes.

And there will be "reduced ceremonial elements" - which is a real shame.

Because in most years, the Queen's Speech to Parliament is a full-on royal spectacle, an embarrassment of British awesomeness, full of pomp and wonder.

Here's how it usually goes:

The Queen delivers her speech - also known as the Gracious Address - seated in the chamber of the House of Lords, on the throne.

On her head: the Imperial State Crown, delivered to Westminster in its own horse-drawn carriage!

Its cap is purple velvet, perched on a frame larded with thousands of precious gems. It weighs more than two pounds. Poor Queen.

Heavy is the head that wears the Imperial State Crown as Queen Elizabeth II is seen doing here on May 18, 2016. The crown weighs more than two pounds, writes NPR's Melissa Block. Toby Melville/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Toby Melville/AFP/Getty Images

Heavy is the head that wears the Imperial State Crown as Queen Elizabeth II is seen doing here on May 18, 2016. The crown weighs more than two pounds, writes NPR's Melissa Block.

Toby Melville/AFP/Getty Images

Draped around the Queen's shoulders: an ermine cape, with an 18-foot long crimson velvet train.

And there's so much more!

There's the Cap of Maintenance. The Great Sword of State. And the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod.

And then there's the speech. Not written by the Queen herself, but she reads it, dutifully.

Truth be told? The speech itself is usually a bit of a snooze, a pro forma government blueprint.

But the pageantry? Now that is worth waiting for.

And apparently - we'll have to wait 'til 2018 for all that, because, this year, the Queen is dressing down.