Britain’s Queen Elizabeth has outlined the government’s legislative agenda, during the official state opening of parliament at Westminster.
One of the key priorities will be early legislation to pave the way for an in-out referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.
The monarch made her first Conservative-only speech in nearly two decades – after Prime Minister David Cameron’s party swept to victory in elections earlier this month, forming a majority government and ending a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.
“My government will renegotiate the United Kingdom’s relationship with the European Union and pursue reform of the European Union for the benefit of all member states,” said the monarch during her speech.
“Alongside this, early legislation will be introduced to provide for an in-out referendum on membership of the European Union before the end of 2017.”
The Queen also said that Britain would continue to play a “leading role” in global affairs – saying the country would remain at the “forefront” of efforts to defeat terrorism in the Middle East.
The UK will also “maintain pressure” on Russia to “respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty” of Ukraine – and will insist on the full implementation of the Minsk agreements.
Domestic priorities were also outlined, including plans to ensure economic stability and to create new jobs.
The government’s programme will now be debated by the House of Commons and House of Lords.