Skip to main content

Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

Volume 710: debated on Wednesday 9 March 2022

Next month marks 75 years since the young Princess Elizabeth made her famous pledge:

“I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service”.

My Department is working closely with colleagues across Government, and we will play our full part in celebrating the achievement of Her Majesty the Queen on the occasion of her platinum jubilee. It will be the nation’s opportunity to recognise all that she has given to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, to express to her all she means to us, and to say to her with gratitude and in unity: long may she reign over us—God save the Queen.

I very much associate myself with the Minister’s remarks. I know the celebration of the platinum jubilee will be a cross-Government effort, but will he assure me that he is working with the devolved Administrations to ensure it is an entire-UK event, with all parts of the United Kingdom joining together to celebrate this momentous occasion?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right: this is an occasion that should unite the whole of the United Kingdom—all regions and all nations of the United Kingdom. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I are working closely with local authorities and the Government in Northern Ireland to make sure that this is something that brings communities together. We will want to remember some of the 25 occasions that the Queen has visited Northern Ireland: three of them as Princess Elizabeth and 22 of them as Queen. We want to involve young people and we want to use the opportunity of the jubilee to celebrate the best of Northern Ireland.

I recently was proud to join colleagues from across the House in setting up the all-party group for the Queen’s platinum jubilee. Can the Minister tell us what steps he is taking to ensure that the celebration extends across the United Kingdom and that it is used to showcase the benefits of our UK, with Northern Ireland as an integral part of it?

This occasion should bring us all together. In that light and specifically with reference to Northern Ireland, I would like to welcome the comments of the Leader of Sinn Fein who said that she wanted to

“extend to the British Queen a word of congratulations because 70 years is quite some achievement.”

She said:

“That is what you call a lifetime of service.”

Those comments have made it easier for us in Northern Ireland to celebrate this in all communities across the whole of Northern Ireland.

The platinum jubilee presents a great opportunity to celebrate and reaffirm the place of all parts of our United Kingdom, especially in Northern Ireland, which, this year, has celebrated its centenary year. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the celebrations will include UK-wide events, including in Northern Ireland, to celebrate all 70 years of Her Majesty’s service? Will he also encourage all primary school-aged children in North West Durham to take part in my competition to design a platinum jubilee card for Her Majesty?

The example that my hon. Friend gives of the competition that he is running in his own constituency will, I am sure, be replicated across the House. I can give him the assurance that Northern Ireland will participate in all of the national events around the jubilee: the platinum pudding competition; the big jubilee lunch. This is a great celebration for us all to enjoy in a spirit of unity.

The Minister was right to reflect on the comments from the Leader of Sinn Fein. They are rare and he will know that, in Northern Ireland, there still pervades a lack of generosity about the huge commitment and dignity that Her Majesty has shown our United Kingdom. He will also know that there is a stark contrast between the Northern Ireland Office’s position on celebrating the centenary last year, with the construction of a forum and the allocation of funds, and the tame approach when it comes to the platinum jubilee. Will the Minister outline whether he will dedicate significant resource, so that we can celebrate this historic achievement in style?

I do not totally agree with the characterisation of the hon. Gentleman around the centenary programme that the Northern Ireland Office ran. I thought that it was bold, that it was inclusive and that it recognised the unique circumstances—[Interruption.] Oh, the hon. Gentleman said that he welcomed it. Sorry, I misheard him. Mr Speaker, I apologise to the hon. Gentleman. I am so used to criticism from the Democratic Unionist party that that rare outbreak of consensus passed me by. I can give him my total assurance that we will be marking this jubilee with full throttle, joy and celebration, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be coming forward with some very innovative ideas about how we will mark it, especially in Northern Ireland.