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Queen Elizabeth II unveils British gov't plan

LONDON--Queen Elizabeth II unveiled the government's legislative agenda for its final year in power Wednesday on a day that showcases Britain in grandest style — offering a sumptuous display of pomp and power.

The main ceremonial event of Parliament's calendar is a moment of pride, replete with ermine and silk and evoking centuries of grandeur. Thousands of tourists lined the streets near the gothic spires of the Houses of Parliament to watch the parade of carriages in hopes of getting a glimpse of the monarch's gloved hand.

The speech marks the final opportunity for the Conservative-led government of David Cameron to offer ideas ahead of the election set for 2015. A package of measures was offered — including laws making it simpler to recall wayward lawmakers and changes in pension plans.

The plans also included laws intended to safeguard people acting as Good Samaritans, protecting them in the case of lawsuits stemming from actions taken in an emergency. A bill was also announced to place a mandatory five-pence charge (about 8 U.S. cents) for supermarket bags.

Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg suggested the program was “unashamedly pro-work, pro-business and pro-aspiration.”

The monarch traveled in the resplendent new Diamond Jubilee State Coach. The coach, which was made in Australia, requires three grooms and six horses.

The coach's interior is lined in yellow silk and is comprised of pieces donated by historic sites and organizations. The seat handrails, for example, are from the Royal Yacht Britannia, while the window frames and interior panels include material from Canterbury Cathedral, 10 Downing Street, and the Antarctic bases of Capt. Scott and Ernest Shackleton.

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