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Her Majesty's Return From Her Commonwealth Tour

Volume 527: debated on Monday 17 May 1954

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I beg to move,

That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, assuring Her Majesty, on the occasion of Her return from Her historic Commonwealth Tour, of the loyal and affectionate welcome of this House to Her Majesty and his Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.
Mr. Speaker, there is no duty which the House of Commons could discharge with keener pleasure or deeper conviction than to approve the Motion it now falls to me to move.

When the background of this formidable century rises in our minds with all its struggles and achievements; with all its increases in power and peril, with all its anxieties and unsolved problems, the gleaming episode of the Queen's journey among her peoples, their joy in welcoming her and the impact of her personality upon their vast numbers constitutes an event which stands forth without an equal in our records, and casts a light-clear, calm, gay and benignant upon the whole human scene.

To the people of these islands, for whom we speak in this House, the Sovereign has rendered a service of lasting value—which could have sprung from no other source—a service involving not only tireless exertion but an element of danger—through air travel and other hazards—of which everyone concerned was conscious except herself. Sir, we thank God she is safe home again, and we in the Mother of Parliaments express our gratitude to her and to her husband the Duke of Edinburgh for the work that they have done together, which no one else could do.

Let us survey and salute the service to which our Address of welcome bears testimony. Although we have grown and progressed in many ways since the great Victorian age, a gigantic world has come into being and into contact around us in which, if judged by material tests alone, we have been surpassed. The Queen's journey of nearly six months has reminded all the nations of the message we have brought and of the causes for which we stand.

The Constitutional Monarchy surely founded in the hearts of its people; the Crown the servant not the master of the State; the harmonious reconciliation of the past with the present; the spirit of individual freedom, tolerance, fair play; the capacity at the same time to change and to endure: all these facts and themes have been presented as was never before possible, for all the world to see.

From beginning to end this Royal pilgrimage has reasserted human values, and given a new pre-eminence to the grace and dignity of life. This has not been confined to those who participated in the ceremonies or belong to our wide and varied association. All over the globe there has been a sense of kindly feeling and of generous admiration. Even Envy wore a friendly smile: "How lucky they are to be able to personify the authority and symbolism of the State and combine tradition and modernity in so captivating a way." Indeed, I believe that far beyond her Realms men and women have gained an accession of moral strength and good humour at a time when these virtues were never more needed to help mankind to use their hearts as well as their brains and so find their way through the problems and perils which baffle intellect alone.

Indeed, it may well be that the lively sense of universal brotherhood, and of the bright hopes of the future, may stir in all humanity these qualities which will enable it to control and survive the dread agencies which have fallen into its as yet untutored hands. I assign no limits to the reinforcement which this Royal journey may have brought to the health, the wisdom, the sanity and hopefulness of mankind. And we in the House of Commons welcome the opportunity of putting on record, in the most earnest and solemn manner open to us, our acknowledgment of the memorable benefits which we have received.

I rise to support, on behalf of my hon. and right hon. Friends on this side of the House, the Motion which has been so eloquently moved by the Prime Minister. We are speaking here for the House of Commons, and I think that we are all conscious that we are giving voice to the sentiments of the people. I think that Saturday showed a remarkable demonstration of the people's feelings, and I am quite sure that Her Majesty the Queen must have felt that, having had such a warm reception throughout all parts of her journey, she had come home to find a no less warm one in this country.

I suppose that one could look back over the ages and imagine some stately progress by the rulers of a Realm with all the people looking up in distant awe. How different was this progress. The note that was struck everywhere was the personal, human, friendly note. People saw not only a ruler but a friend. They saw a young and beautiful woman and her husband symbolising the kind of family life that we all love and respect, and I am quite sure that this journey, which at times must have been very burdensome, has done a great service to the people of the British Commonwealth.

There is something in personalities. It is all very well to have a formula or to have a constitution or even a flag, but people want to feel a loyalty and affection towards people and see those people and know those people. I feel that today, as perhaps never before, the people of the Commonwealth feel what is expressed in this Motion for an Address— not only loyalty but affection.

It is a privilege to be permitted to support this Motion of welcome. Every Member of the House would like to express our delight at the return of Her Majesty and His Royal Highness.

With full hearts, we acknowledge our deep gratitude to them for undertaking on behalf of all the peoples of the Commonwealth this great journey which, though so happy and giving so much pleasure, was certainly arduous, and must have imposed a heavy strain upon them. We desire to pay our tribute to Her Majesty and His Royal Highness for their ceaseless devotion to duty and for the evidence that each day brings forth of their dedication to the high service of the people.

We acknowledge our recognition of the sacrifice they made in being parted for so long from their children. They are the happy and proud parents of two young children who, in themselves, bring joy to the hearts of millions throughout the Commonwealth, and indeed the world. I honestly and sincerely believe that we of the Commonwealth are, in our gracious Queen and the Royal Family, the envy of the rest of the world.

We followed Her Majesty and His Royal Highness day by day throughout their triumphant tour We here knew the pleasure they would bring to all, the quick understanding, the happy manner in which they greet all everywhere, at all times and on all occasions. Her Majesty and His Royal Highness are the true ambassadors from the peoples of this old country to the peoples of all the other members of this great Commonwealth— ambassadors of good will, good fellowship and warm friendship. We welcome them home—for home is here—and at the same time express our deep and sincere gratitude.

In expressing our gratitude to Her Majesty and His Royal Highness, may I also be permitted to add our sincere thanks to Her Majesty the Queen Mother and Her Royal Highness the Princess Margaret, who have so nobly undertaken very many and varied heavy duties during the absence of Her Majesty.

Question put, and agreed to nemine contradicente.


That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, assuring Her Majesty, on the occasion of Her return from Her historic Commonwealth Tour, of the loyal and affectionate welcome of this House to Her Majesty and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.
To be presented by Privy Councillors or Members of Her Majesty's Household.