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Marriage Of Princess Elizabeth

Volume 443: debated on Wednesday 22 October 1947

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I beg to move,

"That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty to congratulate His Majesty, Her Majesty the Queen and Her Royal Highness the Princess Elizabeth on the approaching Marriage of Her Royal Highness to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten; to express to His Majesty the satisfaction felt by this House at an event which is of such deep interest to His Majesty and to the Nation and promises to secure the happiness of Her Royal Highness; and to assure His Majesty that this House will ever participate with the most affectionate and dutiful attachment in whatever may concern the interests of His Majesty."
The occasion of this Motion cannot but move deep feelings both of loyalty and of personal interest in us all. Their Majesties have always shown the keenest sympathy with their subjects. They have rejoiced with them in victory; they have mourned with them when tragic events have occurred, and throughout the war they shared the dangers of their people, and remained in their midst. This continuous sympathy is reciprocated by the nation. Few of us will ever forget the tremendous and wholly spontaneous demonstrations of loyalty and affection towards the King and the Royal Family with which our people marked the announcement of victory over our enemies in the late war.

Many of us today have been taking part in a ceremony which commemorates a Sovereign whose example in public and private life evoked feelings of deep respect and affection. It recalled to the minds of many of us the day when we joined with Their Majesties in their sorrow. Today, we are giving expression as representatives of the nation to the general desire to share in the happiness which the betrothal of Her Royal Highness the Princess Elizabeth has brought to Their Majesties, and we respectfully offer them our cordial and sincere congratulations on this happy event, which has been so widely welcomed by the nation. Her Royal Highness has shown in the public duties which she has undertaken the same unerring graciousness and understanding, and the same human simplicity which has endeared the Royal House to the people of this country. In the years to come, more onerous duties may fall to her lot, but, if the promise which we have watched unfolding comes to fruition, the high regard and popularity which the Royal Family has so justly earned will be fully maintained. She has won a secure place in the affections of the people.

It is a source of pleasure to all of us that the future husband of Her Royal Highness has been trained in the great traditions of the Royal Navy and that he served with distinction under the White Ensign in the war. Lieutenant Mount-batten bears a name which has been honoured and respected in that great Service for two generations before him. It is our earnest wish that both of them should find the greatest happiness in their marriage. I move this loyal and humble Address in the confidence that it will receive the unanimous support of the House. It would seem appropriate on this occasion for the Address to be presented to His Majesty on behalf of the House by Privy Councillors representing all parties.

I am very glad to second the Motion which the Prime Minister has moved in felicitous terms, and to associate the Conservative Party and the Opposition with it in the most cordial manner. I welcome the novel suggestion which the Prime Minister has made, that this Address should be presented by Privy Councillors representing all parties. There is- no doubt that the approaching marriage gives keen and widespread pleasure in British homes and that it stirs most warm and lively sympathies in the hearts of the British nation. Our constitutional monarchy and the Royal Family play a vital part in the tradition, dignity and romance of our island life. We congratulate the King and Queen upon the happiness which the betrothal of a beloved daughter in such auspicious circumstances has given them.

I am in entire accord with what the Prime Minister has said about Princess Elizabeth and about the qualities which she has already shown, to use his words, "of unerring graciousness and understanding and of human simplicity." He is indeed right in declaring that these are among the characteristics of the Royal House. I trust that everything that is appropriate will be done by His Majesty's Government to mark this occasion of national rejoicing.
"One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,"
and millions will welcome this joyous event as a flash of colour on the hard road we have to travel. From the bottom of our hearts, the good wishes and good will of the British nation flow out to the Princess and to the young sailor who are so soon to be united in the bonds of holy matrimony. That they may find true happiness together and be guided on the paths of duty and honour is the prayer of all.

We welcome this auspicious occasion as affording us in this House, not only on our own behalf, but, as their representatives, on behalf of all the people of this country, an opportunity of testifying once again our deep sense of loyalty and affection for the members of the Royal Family who share to the full in the joys and indeed in the sorrows of their people, as the people of this country, on their part, share the joys and, on occasion, the sorrows of the Royal Family. We respectfully desire to join in tendering to her Royal Highness the Princess Elizabeth and to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten our warmest congratulations. We wish them a long life of happiness and assure them that they will at all times have the abiding affection of the people of this country.

I would like to support the remarks which have just been made. My hon. Friends on this bench are particularly anxious that on this happy and auspicious occasion they, too, should proffer to Their Majesties their humble allegiance and express their best wishes for the future happiness of Her Royal Highness the Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten.

I am very sorry that I should have to speak upon what should be the intimate and private affairs of a young girl of whom I must say I know very little, but the fact that the matter is brought up in this House demonstrates that it is not a private but a public affair with certain political implications. We have been told in certain sections of the Press that this is a case of mutual attraction—what is generally termed a love affair. But that is quite irrelevant, because the uncle of the young lady had a love affair and lost his job as a consequence. When we hear what is going on in this connection, do not let us forget that it was a Tory Government, backed up by a huge Tory majority, which ten years ago threw the King off the Throne and sent him wandering over the face of the earth.

I am surprised that on this occasion such an irrelevant note should be introduced. These two young people have been engaged, and we want to wish them good luck. It is not relevant to go back over the past, as the hon. Member has done.

Surely, when one hears such talk about the Royal Family and the traditions of the Royal Family, it is permissible to take note of the treatment which the Royal Family received on a particular occasion. I cannot forget that on the day that this engagement was announced, thousands of Greek citizens—Communists, Socialists and trade unionists—were thrown into the prison camps of the reactionary Royalist Government.

The Motion which we are discussing has nothing to do with the Government of Greece.

We are told that this young man has forsaken his family name and nationality, and has taken on another name and another nationality. But that is of little consequence, because I am quite certain that he has not forsaken the family politics. The "News Chronicle," with unctuous hypocrisy, informed us that as Philip Glucksburg he would have been viewed with suspicion, but as Philip Mountbatten he will be warmly welcomed in this country. That is what may be called flying in the face of Shakespeare. I cannot see my way to welcome him under any name. I, therefore, desire to disassociate myself from this Motion and from the lavish expenditure in connection with this affair, at a time when the masses of our people are on short rations and some are even suffering from privation.

I would not have said anything, had it not been for the last speech. It was a most disgraceful speech to be made on an occasion of this kind. As is well known in the House and in the country, I hold Socialist and republican views, but I do say that on the occasion of the approaching marriage of this young couple it is very unfortunate indeed to introduce all sorts of outside alien political matters. I do not forget that I have just returned from Spain, and they are hoping to obtain a constitutional monarchy of the type which we have in this country. The more I look at the "Red Royal Family" in Moscow, the more I think that the British Royal Family still have a place in the hearts of the people.

May I ask the Prime Minister if this affair involves us in any additional financial expenditure?

Not in my opinion. Question put, and agreed to.

Resolved, nemine contradicente:
"That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty to congratulate His Majesty, Her Majesty the Queen and Her Royal Highness the Princess Elizabeth on the approaching Marriage of Her Royal Highness to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten; to express to His Majesty the satisfaction felt by this House at an event which is of such deep interest to His Majesty and to the Nation and promises to secure the happiness of Her Royal Highness; and to assure His Majesty that this House will ever participate with the most affectionate and dutiful attachment in whatever may concern the interests of His Majesty."
Address to be presented by Privy Councillors or Members of His Majesty's Household.