Queen Victoria – 1876 Queen’s Speech

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Below is the text of the Queen’s Speech given in the House of Lords on 8 February 1876. It was spoken by the Lord Chancellor on behalf of HM Queen Victoria.

My Lords, and Gentlemen,

It is with much satisfaction that I again resort to the advice and assistance of my Parliament.

My relations with all Foreign Powers continue to be of a cordial character.

The insurrectionary movement, which, during the last six months, has been maintained in the Turkish Provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and which the troops of the Sultan have, up to the present time, been unable to repress, has excited the attention and interest of the great European Powers. I have considered it my duty not to stand aloof from the efforts now being made by allied and friendly Governments to bring about a pacification of the disturbed districts, and I have accordingly, while respecting the independence of the Porte, joined in urging on the Sultan the expediency of adopting such measures of administrative reform as may remove all reasonable cause of discontent on the part of his Christian subjects.

I have agreed to purchase, subject to your sanction, the shares which belonged to the Khedive of Egypt in the Suez Canal, and I rely with confidence on your enabling me to complete a transaction in which the public interests are deeply involved.

The representations which I addressed to the Chinese Government, as to the attack made in the course of last year on the Expedition sent from Burmah to the Western Provinces of China, have been received in a friendly spirit. The circumstances of that lamentable outrage are now the subject of an inquiry, in which I have thought it right to request that a Member of my Diplomatic Service should take part. I await the result of this inquiry in the firm conviction that it will be so conducted as to lead to the discovery and punishment of the offenders.

Papers on all these subjects will be laid before you.

I am deeply thankful for the uninterrupted health which my dear Son, the Prince of Wales, has enjoyed during his journey through India. The hearty affection with which he has been received by my Indian subjects of all classes and races assures me that they are happy under my rule, and loyal to my throne. At the time that the direct Government of my Indian Empire was transferred to the Crown, no formal addition was made to the style and titles of the Sovereign. I have deemed the present a fitting opportunity for supplying this omission, and a Bill upon the subject will be presented to you.

The humane and enlightened policy consistently pursued by this country in putting an end to slavery within her own dependencies, and in suppressing the Slave Trade throughout the world, makes it important that the action of British National ships in the territorial waters of Foreign States should be in harmony with these great principles. I have, therefore, given directions for the issue of a Royal Commission to inquire into all Treaty engagements and other International obligations bearing upon this subject, and all instructions from time to time issued to my naval officers, with a view to ascertain whether any steps ought to be taken to secure for my ships and their Commanders abroad greater power for the maintenance of the right of personal liberty.

A Bill will be laid before you for punishing Slave Traders who are subjects of Native Indian Princes.

The affairs of my Colonial Empire, the general prosperity of which has continued to advance, have received a large share of my attention. Papers of importance and interest will soon be in your hands showing the proceedings with respect to a Conference of the South African Colonies and States.

The murder of a high officer of the Straits Settlements whilst acting as Resident in a neighbouring Malay State, and the disorders ensuing on that outrage, have demanded the interference of my troops. I trust that the operations, which have been ably and energetically conducted, though not without the loss of some valuable lives, have restored order, and re-established the just influence and authority of this country.

Gentlemen of the House of Commons,

I have directed the Estimates of the year to be prepared and presented to you without delay.

My Lords, and Gentlemen,

Bills for regulating the Ultimate Tribunal of Appeal for the United Kingdom, and for the amendment of the Merchant Shipping Laws, will be immediately submitted to you.

Legislation will be proposed relating to the Universities and to Primary Education.

Your attention will be called also to the Acts relating to the Inclosure of Commons, and to a measure for promoting economy and efficiency in the management of Prisons, and at the same time effecting a relief of local burthens.

Other important measures, as the time of the Session permits, will be introduced to your notice; and I pray that your deliberations may, under the Divine blessing, result in the happiness and contentment of my people.