Skip to main content

Address To Her Majesty (Silver Jubilee)

Volume 931: debated on Tuesday 3 May 1977

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

3.40 p.m.

I beg to move,

That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty to congratulate Her Majesty on the occasion of the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of Her Accession to the Throne.
I am sure that the House will once more accord to you, Mr. Speaker, the traditional right which has been claimed by Speakers-in-Office to express the sentiments of this House to Her Majesty in your own words.

As I believe hon. Members know informally, if not formally, Her Majesty has graciously agreed to come to West-minister Hall tomorrow at noon to receive the Address.

This occasion will mark the start of the main programme of the Jubilee celebrations which will be held throughout all parts of the United Kingdom, and it is fitting that it should begin with a meeting between the Sovereign and Parliament.

The range and variety of occasions already arranged, from the solemn service of thanksgiving in St. Paul's Cathedral to the innumerable children's street teas in cities, towns and villages up and down the country, will express in their own way the desire of the nation to show our appreciation and loyalty to Her Majesty.

On such an occasion we think of the Throne as an institution and of the Queen as a person. In conjunction with Parliament, the Throne as an institution enables us to maintain a stability that is widely admired overseas. Together, the Sovereign and Parliament provide the instruments by which momentous changes have been, are and will continue to be reconciled with continuity in our country.

The Throne, as the summit of our institutions, provides a unifying influence for our people, and no nation is better served by the summit of its institutions. But it is not to the Throne as an institution that you will deliver our Address tomorrow, Mr. Speaker; it is to Her Majesty the Queen as a person that we ask you to render our thanks.

Those of us who have the privilege of meeting Her Majesty know that she has made herself the undoubted centre of a happy and united family and that its affection and support have strengthened her throughout the whole of the 25 years. In this connection I especially remember the never-failing support given to her by Prince Philip.

We are fortunate as a country in our public affairs that Her Majesty is the embodiment of practical good sense, sharp perception of issues and understanding of the British people. Her wide contacts with the Commonwealth and its leaders in my judgment gives her unrivalled knowledge, exceeded by nobody.

By her overseas visits and tours, especially within the Commonwealth and elsewhere, she has become a familiar figure. She has played a devoted, resolute and successful part for which this House and the nation are deeply thankful.

I commend this motion to the House with confidence. I ask the House to agree that our thanks to Her Majesty should be recorded on this historic occasion in traditional historic form and that the motion should be resolved accordingly.

Long may she reign.

3.44 p.m.

May I rise briefly and wholeheartedly to support the Prime Minister in the speech he has just made in support of the Address congratulating Her Majesty.

The Crown today has its roots not only in tradition but in the affection and trust of the people. Inevitably, as the Prime Minister pointed out, we think first of the Queen in Parliament because we have the great honour and privilege of seeing the many ceremonials that attend our functions.

Ceremonial plays an important part in the life of the people and it cements them together in unity in a way that no other method can achieve. Also we believe that the Queen in Parliament protects this country, as the Prime Minister said, from anybody who seeks to usurp power, so that we always know that the Queen is the guarantor of the constitutional integrity of the nation. That gives us a great stability and constancy which nothing else can provide. Whatever happens, so long as the Monarchy is there, we believe that parliamentary democracy and the rule of law will continue.

As the Prime Minister pointed out, we congratulate the Queen not only as a Monarch but as a person for the wonderful way in which she and the Royal Family have carried out their duties.

No institution can be separated from the character and personality of those who carry out day to day the many demands that are made on them. We have a Royal Family with whom we can identify all that is best in the family life of our country. Dignity and ceremonial will invoke admiration and respect, but it is their warmth, friendliness and humanity that endear our people to the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen Mother and other members of the Royal Family.

Each year on Christmas Day we have the royal broadcast. In an age of science, constitutions and politics it is interesting that in last year's broadcast the Queen underlined the fact that it is the individual who matters. We know that the individual matters not only among people or in Parliament but in the way in which all the members of the Royal Family have carried out their duties so splendidly.

May I quote one of the best and most human tributes to Her Majesty, given by Sir John Colville in his book "The Elizabethans":
"In an age of melting convictions and questionable needs the Queen's unassuming virtues and faultless example have stood out like a rock in a sea of troubles."
We offer through you, Mr. Speaker, our congratulations to the Queen, with our admiration and affection.

3.46 p.m.

There has been a common thread running through the nation's Jubilee tributes, including those we have heard this afternoon. We not only thank Her Majesty for 25 years' devoted public service but we extend our warm greetings to the Queen and her family as individuals on this happy anniversary and acknowledge the example in contented family life that she has given to the whole nation.

We know, Mr. Speaker, that in presenting the humble Address you perform one of the functions which give your office its name when you speak to the Monarch on behalf of the House of Commons. When you do so, you will be able to assure her that during the 25 years of her reign, when we have seen monarchs and presidents elsewhere come and go, she has done a great deal by her personal dedication. You will also be able to underline the advantages to the United Kingdom of a constitutional monarchy in preserving the liberties of our people and the fundamental unity of this country and of the Commonwealth. For that we are all deeply grateful.

May I associate my hon. Friends and myself briefly with the terms and intent of the Prime Minister's motion.

3.49 p.m.

May I add my congratulations to Her Majesty on attaining her Silver Jubilee.

Eloquent tributes have already been paid by the Prime Minister and by the Leader of the Opposition. I hope that historians will look back on this occasion and say that the great achievement of this 25-year period has been concerned both with the institution of monarchy and with the Queen herself.

This has been the way in which Her Majesty, through her personality and attitude to life, has enabled the Monarchy to adapt itself to changes which have taken place during the past 25 years. This country has seen considerable changes internally in social arrangements, in our position in the world and in our joining the European Community.

In common with the other six Prime Ministers who have served Her Majesty during her reign, I had the privilege of the weekly audience to which the Prime Minister referred. It is right that those matters should remain confidential. I must say that I find it difficult to reconcile my experiences on those occasions with what has been recently written about Her Majesty's attitude towards her Prime Ministers, which has been indicated as taking on more the rôle of a television interrogator than that of Her Majesty's conducting an audience with her first Minister, servant of the Crown.

The experience I had was always a happy one, and I should like to pay tribute to the shrewdness of judgment of Her Majesty, both of people and of events. I think the Prime Minister used the word "pragmatic". Her Majesty's approach has been one of sound common sense, which, after a period of 25 years, becomes in matters of State the highest wisdom. For that, we are all deeply grateful to her.

Her Majesty has always shown, in my experience, special concern to those who have served the State, no matter in how humble a position, particularly in the Armed Forces of the Crown, and those who have given voluntary service to the community in whatever form. Her knowledge of those concerned has to me always been a matter at which to marvel.

I should like to thank Her Majesty—as I am sure my predecessor would like to do—for the kindness, consideration and courtesy which she has always shown. But the lasting impact of Her Majesty is that of her humanity. She is deeply interested in people. That is why she is the centre of a family which is so happy. At the same time, this happiness extends to her feeling for her fellow citizens.

We are all deeply grateful to Her Majesty for what she has done in these 25 years, and, in particular, perhaps, those who have served her, because in meeting her she gives one an assurance—indeed, a reassurance—not from supporting this policy or that policy but merely because of the steadfastness and quality of her own personality. I, too, would like to join those who say "Long may she reign."

3.52 p.m.

May I, on behalf of my colleagues, support sincerely but briefly the motion standing in the name of the Prime Minister, and may I associate with it those of Her Majesty's subjects who live in Northern Ireland.

Question put and agreed to, nemine contradicente.


That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty to congratulate Her Majesty on the occasion of the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of Her Accession to the Throne.


That the said Address be presented to Her Majesty by the whole House.—[The Prime Minister.]