King Charles will speak at the State Opening of Parliament today as he sets out Rishi Sunak’s “vision of a better Britain” in the King’s Speech.

With a general election expected next year, Rishi Sunak will seek to make law and order a key election battleground with a series of measures in the King’s Speech promising tougher sentences for killers, rapists and grooming gang ringleaders.

The plan will deliver on already-announced proposals for killers convicted of the most horrific murders to expect whole life orders, meaning they will never be released, while rapists and other serious sexual offenders will not be let out early from prison sentences.

Other measures in the speech – being delivered by the King for the first time as monarch – include giving police the power to enter a property without a warrant to seize stolen goods, such as phones, when they have reasonable proof that a specific stolen item is inside.

That could mean using a device’s GPS tracking to lead police to where it had been stashed.

The Prime Minister said: “I want everyone across the country to have the pride and peace of mind that comes with knowing your community, where you are raising your family and taking your children to school, is safe. That is my vision of what a better Britain looks like.

“Thanks to this Government, crime is down, but we must always strive to do more, taking the right long-term decisions for the country and keeping the worst offenders locked up for longer.

“In the most despicable cases, these evil criminals must never be free on our streets again. Life needs to mean life.”

What to expect from the King's Speech today

The new Criminal Justice Bill will include widely trailed measures to ensure reasonable force can be used to make offenders appear in the dock to face their victims for sentencing, or risk having up to two years added to their jail term.

It will also make being in a grooming gang an aggravating feature for sentencing, meaning tougher punishments for ringleaders and members.

The Sentencing Bill will mean a whole life order will be handed down in the worst cases of murder, with judges having discretion to impose a shorter tariff only in exceptional circumstances.

The legislation will also ensure that rapists and serious sexual offenders serve the whole of their sentence behind bars, without being released early on licence.

A Victims and Prisoners Bill will give ministers the power to block parole for the worst offenders and ban them from marrying in prison.

The King, who has a longstanding interest in environmental matters, will also announce his Government’s plan for a new law to mandate annual oil and gas licensing in the North Sea – another issue on which the Tories hope to fight a political battle with Labour.

The speech could also introduce a law that would stop children who turn 14 this year and those younger from ever legally buying cigarettes or tobacco in England, as promised by Mr Sunak at the Tory conference.

A report in The Times suggested new legislation for driverless vehicles will clear the way for buses, grocery deliveries and farm machinery to operate autonomously by the end of the decade.

A source told the newspaper: “It will pave the way for the commercial use of autonomous technology, which will have huge benefits for consumers, reduce road deaths and help decarbonise transport.”

Plans to “phase out” leaseholds will be in the King’s Speech, while the Renters Reform Bill will return although the commitment to ban “no-fault” evictions has been watered down.

It will be the first State Opening of Parliament by Charles as King, although he delivered the last Queen’s Speech of Elizabeth II’s reign in place of his mother last year.

Due to the late Queen’s long reign, it will be the first King’s Speech since George VI opened Parliament in 1950.

When is the King's Speech 2023?

King Charles will read the 2023 King's Speech in the Lords Chamber at the State Opening of Parliament today.

The State Opening will begin at 9.30am with the Yeomen of the Guard, the royal bodyguards, ceremonially search the cellars of the Palace of Westminster for explosives, according to the UK Parliament website.

This commemorates the ‘gunpowder plot' of 1605 – a failed attempt by English Catholics to blow up the Protestant King James I and Parliament.  

There will then be a royal procession that will make its way to Parliament.

Once the royal procession has arrived in the Lords, Black Rod will proceed to the Commons Chamber and summon its members to the House of Lords.

The doors of the Commons will then be symbolically "slammed" closed before MPs will then follow Black Rod to the Lords to hear the King’s Speech. 

The King's Speech is set to take place around 11.30am today.