What do the Queen, goats and local elections have in common?

Well apparently, the Queen’s annual speech delivered today which sets out the priorities for Parliament for the coming year is traditionally written on goat skin parchment. However, due to cutbacks, the speech is now written on goatskin parchment paper.

Paper has long been adapted in this way to imitate parchment and the results can be difficult to distinguish. With the use of certain oils applied to the paper as well as particular techniques used during paper production such over-beating of the paper fibers before the sheet is formed, the process has long provided a cheaper but durable alternative material.

If you have family indentures which date from the late 19th century to the early 20th century, they may well be written on this paper. Look carefully for any hair follicles, a give-away of genuine parchment. But be careful; parchment paper is very vulnerable to moisture fluctuations and is best stored in a cool, dry environment.

Any speculation that this years’ speech was written in response to the recent local election results has been quashed by the confirmation from Downing Street that the ink took three days to dry!

For the BBC news report, go to:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-22441280

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