Politics in Wales today: The Queen to arrive in Cardiff to open the Sixth Senedd

By Ruth Mosalski

It will be a fancier day than usual at the Senedd today. The Queen will arrive in Cardiff Bay this morning to officially open the Sixth Senedd.

The opening, which usually takes place just after an election, has been delayed due to the pandemic. Expect a lot of pomp but also speeches from Her Majesty, Y Llywydd Elin Jones and First Minister Mark Drakeford.

Speaking before the event, Ms Jones said: "We have all experienced 18 months like no other. Together we begin this new Senedd session with hope and resolve. Our official opening event is not only a celebration of the Senedd but of the diverse communities across Wales whose voices are represented within these walls.

“I am particularly pleased that many Covid Community Champions who made such a positive difference in their areas, with strength and generosity of spirit, will join us from all parts of Wales. As we commemorate the beginning of a new Senedd term, let’s be inspired by these endeavours and by the voices within our unique communities as we face both the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

You can follow our coverage live or watch senedd.tv from 11.15am. It will also be broadcast on BBC One Wales and S4C.

It will include creative performances by participants from all over Wales, but, due to the ongoing coronavirus restrictions, for the first time it will involve a mixture of in person and pre-recorded performances.

During the official opening of the Senedd, the Queen will make a speech in the Senedd’s chamber, as will the Llywydd of the Senedd, Elin Jones MS, and First Minister, Mark Drakeford.

At the end of 2020, people from all over Wales were nominated by their local Senedd member for their work helping their communities in the pandemic. Some of those will also attend the event to meet the Royal party, including Ian Turner from Aberconwy who is a figurehead in the community as a volunteer of Childline and many cancer charities.

He has recently completed his 13th London Marathon for charity. Alison Round who headed up a sewing group in Flint who turned donated materials into scrub bags, scrubs, hats and masks for NHS and healthcare workers will also attend and Llanelli YouTuber Ffion Gwyther will present a posy of flowers to the Queen.

Eleri Griffiths from Cynon Valley and Oliver Edwards Davies, who were members of the first Welsh Youth Parliament will read a poem written by children from 24 primary schools across Wales while Tân Cerdd, a not-for-profit organisation set-up to raise the profile of Black voices in Wales, will perform a song they composed for the official opening, entitled Ymuno.

Also present at the event will be a family who recently arrived in Wales after fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan. They came as part of the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy having served the armed forces over 20 years in Afghanistan. They will meet the Prince of Wales to talk about how they are starting a new life here."

The WNO Youth Opera will perform a rendition of Ar Lan y Môr – it will be the first time the choir have performed live in 18 months due to coronavirus restrictions.

There are meetings in the Senedd in Cardiff Bay between Monday and Thursday. On Tuesdays and Wednesday there are meetings of the whole Senedd, known as plenary, which usually start at 1.30pm. Due to the pandemic a hybrid model is in place where up to 30 of the 60 MSs will meet in person but the rest via videolink.

Committees, where MSs take evidence about specific issues or grill ministers, take place every day.

Welsh MPs take part in proceedings in London during the week too. The House sits from Monday afternoon, usually until Thursday.

You can follow all our coverage of politics here.

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