I would like to make a brief statement on behalf of the Speaker in relation to the Humble Address celebrating Her Majesty the Queen’s platinum jubilee.
The Speaker says:
“The House will be aware that I am absent as I am travelling to the Falkland Islands for a long-planned visit to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the war there.
I had hoped—and passed on my hope to the Government—that the debate on the Humble Address might have been scheduled for an earlier day so as to avoid the clash, but for reasons I do not fully understand that has not been possible.
Therefore, I hope the House will understand that I want to put on record that no disrespect is intended by my absence; indeed, I look forward to celebrating the jubilee in the Falkland Islands, where, in the words of the chair of the legislative assembly, ‘our distance only serves to strengthen the feelings of gratitude, love and respect that we have for Her Majesty The Queen.’
I would like to give my own short tribute to Her Majesty, the Duke of Lancaster. Most Gracious Sovereign: we, your faithful House of Commons, offer our heartfelt congratulations on the completion of 70 years of your reign. We, too, are pleased to have contributed to the jubilee lamps in New Palace Yard to symbolise the enduring and guiding light you have been to our nation and indeed the whole world.
Not only has Your Majesty been a constant presence in the lives of most of your subjects, but you are also the third-longest serving monarch in world history, and the first in this country to achieve a platinum jubilee—which is an incredible feat.
Your long and distinguished reign has seen extraordinary changes at home and in the wider world. The United Kingdom of 1952 would be unrecognisable today. Back then, the country was making tentative steps towards rebuilding and recovering from the ravages of the second world war, while today we are grateful to our NHS for leading us through the pandemic and look warily upon the war in Ukraine and the shockwaves it has delivered across the globe.
We have moved at lightning speed from rationing through to the jet age, to the space age, to the digital age. The nature of society has changed dramatically too, as today we are richly multicultural and multifaith, celebrating diversity and equality, making this country not only a vibrant and exciting place to live but one that is proud its people can be true to themselves.
Our place in the world has also changed during this time. Seventy years ago, this Parliament was at the heart of an empire; today we are one of 54 independent members of the Commonwealth, of which you are head. We are no longer members of the European Union, and we have chosen to delegate powers to the devolved Parliaments of Scotland and Wales as well as the Northern Ireland Assembly.
The House of Commons today looks rather different from that of 1952, too. We have 13 times as many women Members, from 17 female MPs in 1951 to 225 in 2022, and it is also a younger House.
Without doubt, your lengthy reign and experience, your sage advice and your devotion to the UK, the British overseas territories and the Commonwealth of Nations has been of particular benefit to all 14 Prime Ministers who have served you over the years.
Platinum is the appropriate epithet for this jubilee: it is one of the purest of the precious metals; it is rare, durable and enormously valued. For 70 years, Your Majesty has profoundly demonstrated all these qualities. On behalf of all the Members of the House of Commons, may I thank you wholeheartedly for all that you have done, are doing and will do for the good of our country.”
I beg to move,
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty to offer the heartfelt good wishes and loyal devotion of the House on the occasion of the Seventieth Anniversary of Her Accession to the Throne, expressing its deep gratitude for Her Majesty’s lifelong unstinting service, leadership and commitment to the United Kingdom, Dependencies and Territories, Her other Realms, and the Commonwealth.
Since the Palace of Westminster was founded more than 1,000 years ago, it has seen war and peace, plague and plenty, the rise and fall of empires, all kinds of revolutions—scientific, industrial, political, ecumenical, stylistic—and almost 50 monarchs. In trying to rank the achievements of those monarchs, it must be admitted that not all of them set exemplary standards of personal behaviour, and quite a few were removed violently and prematurely from office, but in our history no monarch has ever served this country so long as this one, with the first platinum jubilee ever. Far more importantly, no monarch has ever served it so well.
When Barack Obama was asked at the end his time as President which world leader had impressed him most, he paused, his mind doubtless running through the gallery of contemporary figures, and said “Queen Elizabeth” and I believe he was right. That is why next week the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth will be unabashed in celebrating not just the institution of the Crown, but the individual who wears it: this remarkable woman, who, by God and her right, has led her country through good times and bad, who has dedicated her life to her people, to her beloved Commonwealth, and to the very idea of what a constitutional monarchy should be, and who has already racked up so many superlatives, some of which the Speaker has already referred to.
In her 25,677 days as Queen, Her Majesty has undertaken more than 21,000 official engagements in well over 100 countries. She has granted Royal Assent to some 4,000 pieces of legislation sent to her by this House, hosted 112 state visits and been served by 14 British Prime Ministers—so far. Across all her realms, she has offered counsel and wisdom to more than 170 Heads of Government, including two generations of Trudeau—so far. She is the holder of at least seven world records, including the most summer Olympiads opened by one person, although at only one such ceremony did she parachute out of a helicopter, in a pink dress. Of course, there was one Olympic medal ceremony where she could claim to have bred both the rider, the Princess Royal, and the horse—a claim that will likely go unrivalled for some time to come. If we needed evidence of the mark she has made on our capital city, not one but two London transport lines have been named in her honour.
It is not so much what she has done as the way she has done it: getting the best out of people; inspiring them to serve others and their communities; helping to create that invisible thread of pride and allegiance that tugs on all our hearts and makes us happy to serve, or at least to do something for, our country in the way that she serves this country.
I know that Prime Ministers are not supposed to relay their conversations with the Queen, and I will not, except to say that her knowledge and understanding of politics and world affairs is profound.
I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows whereof he speaks. There have been times when I have been scrabbling to remember a historical date or the name of some African capital, and she has got there first. When it comes to some subjects—anything equestrian—I am simply nowhere.
I bet I speak for every Prime Minister who has ever had an audience with Her Majesty when I say that our conversations are always immensely comforting, because she has seen the sweep of it. She has seen the cycle from gloom to elation, and every time her country, under her, has gone forward from strength to strength. She has seen an empire transformed into a happy Commonwealth that countries are now bidding to join.
In the thousand-year history of this place, no monarch has seen such an increase in the longevity, prosperity or opportunity—or the freedom—of the British people. No monarch has seen such technical advances, in many of which British scientists have played a leading part, from the dawn of the internet to the use of the world’s first approved covid vaccine. No monarch, by their efforts, dedication and achievement, better deserves the attribute of greatness. For me, she is already Elizabeth the Great.
While she remains resolutely supported by the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and other members of the royal family, we know that these celebrations will be tinged with sadness for Her Majesty by the absence of the Duke of Edinburgh, her strength and stay. And so I hope that in the coming days, we can together further comfort and reassure her, and show with every bonfire, every concert and street party, and every aerobatic display a love and devotion to reciprocate the love, devotion and leadership she has shown to the whole country over seven decades.
On behalf of the whole House, let me say, as the scholars of Westminster cried out from the abbey’s triforium on coronation day 70 years ago, “Vivat Regina Elizabetha!”—God save Queen Elizabeth.
May I second the motion, and associate myself and my party with the sentiments expressed by the Prime Minister? It is an honour to humbly address Her Majesty on such a momentous occasion.
This is the first platinum jubilee for a British monarch—the longest reigning monarch our country has ever had. Her Majesty is the personification of our nation’s great history. At the time of her coronation in 1953, our country was emerging into a new age: the war behind us; new opportunities ahead. As it is now, Britain was at a crossroads, forging a new chapter in our history. Her Majesty has been so much part of that history that it is almost impossible to imagine Britain without her. There have been 14 Prime Ministers, but Her Majesty has remained a constant. When historians look back on our Elizabethan age, they will write of how her commitment to her people, her dedication to duty, her steely resolve made her the perfect monarch for the people and the times she led.
I have been honoured with the pleasure of meeting Her Majesty, most recently when I became a Privy Counsellor, as the Health Secretary knows. I also have the unique experience of being grateful for a time when Her Majesty was otherwise occupied. For the son of a toolmaker and a nurse growing up in a town just outside the M25, being invited to Buckingham Palace to receive a knighthood was never really in the script. It was an incredibly special moment. My parents said it was the proudest day of their lives. But there was a catch: my parents couldn’t bear leaving their dog at home. So in the car that drove through the gates of Buckingham Palace were my mum, my dad and our family dog—not some small dog, but a Great Dane—barking so loudly that the car almost shook from side to side. The image of the Queen’s corgis coming face to face with him flashed through my mind. To this day, I am grateful to the royal guard my dad persuaded to watch over our dog during the ceremony: he had an audience with our family dog so that my parents could have an audience with Prince Charles.
Her Majesty is the most famous face on the planet. Her commitment to her people can be seen in everything she does. She has been on more than 150 visits to her beloved Commonwealth, and wherever she goes she is a beacon of the British spirit. Our United Kingdom has always punched above its weight, and even as our place in the world has changed and adapted, Her Majesty has ensured that we continue to do so. She has improved and protected Britain’s reputation. Whatever culture, religion or tradition her people come from, she has treated them with respect and courtesy.
Her Majesty has shared our greatest moments and suffered with us in our darkest days. The young Princess Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service, driving and mending cars for the allied war effort. She presented Bobby Moore with the World cup in 1966 and starred alongside James Bond at the 2012 Olympics. Of course, she also addressed the nation at the start of covid lockdowns, reminding us that we would one day be back together again. At every moment of national joy or commiseration, she has been there—an unwavering presence through turbulent times; the very epitome of duty.
It is not simply her status or her role that earns Her Majesty the respect, the admiration and the love of people around the world; it is her commitment to others and her innate decency. We come together to celebrate Her Majesty this year, the year of the platinum jubilee, not just because of all that she has done, not just because of how long she has done it for, but because of the way she has done it and the way she has enhanced us all. We celebrate her not just for representing our great nation, but for making it greater still. We celebrate her not just for being our Queen, but for being a Queen for all her people.
I stand here between two Crowns: symbols of the fact that the Queen is an important part of the lawmaking process.
We thank the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister for the way they have introduced the debate. The Leader of the Opposition referred to his knighthood. Last evening at Drapers’ Hall, Richard Luce, now Lord Luce, former Lord Chamberlain to the Queen, spoke for her platinum jubilee in the presence of the Earl of Wessex. Drapers’ Hall is where the Queen was admitted as a senior member of the Court. Some years after, she attended the opening of Drapers’ Academy in east London. Two pupils had school dinner with her and were asked what that was like. They said, “It was all right when we asked her what it was like during the war.”
The Queen has become the person we all know her to have been. She has been through more things than all the rest of us have in our lifetimes. I was calculating that the senior Member of this House, the right hon. Member for Derby South (Margaret Beckett) who was elected before me, and I have served on and off for two-thirds of her reign. When I was first elected, Sir Bernard Braine was the Member for the overseas territories and dependencies. There have been others who have fulfilled that role. We are not just speaking for this country; we are speaking for the dependencies as well. I am very glad that Mr Speaker is able to be in the Falkland Islands, and we send him our best wishes and thanks for doing that.
On the human side, when my wife and I were living in south London, the Queen’s Equerry, Patrick Plunket, bought a house nearby. He sadly died early, and the Queen and Prince Philip very kindly came to a birthday party for Robin Plunket, the brother. I have never seen such a fast gathering of prams and children to provide a guard of honour for one of the Queen’s informal visits. She just attracted people and spoke to them all with the kind of inclusiveness which we can occasionally see at the garden parties, when 8,000 of her closest friends come together several times a year.
It is also notable that the Queen has been on the throne 70 years. It is 69 years, I think, since the coronation. I was one of the people, aged eight, sleeping out in the Mall. I end with this: for those who may get involved in quiz questions about the Queen and even the coronation, the person with Queen Sālote of Tonga was Ibrahim IV, the Sultan of Kelantan in Malaysia, not the person in Noël Coward’s joke. We wish her well.
It is a pleasure to be here on behalf of my party in place of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford) for this Humble Address on the occasion of the platinum jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen. It is an extraordinary thing to consider that Her Majesty has reigned for 70 years. That is an incredible number and an historic achievement. No other monarch has reigned for such an extraordinary period of time.
The social changes that have occurred during that 70-year period have been profound. The world is a very different place now from June 1953, when Her Majesty took the throne. It is difficult to compute how much has happened in a timeframe that has included 14 UK Prime Ministers, the first radio broadcast, which the Queen made in 1940, during the second world war, and the first time the Queen published an Instagram post, which was in 2019. In fact, that is the same for me—the Instagram post, rather than the radio broadcast, of course.
Generations of us have known Her Majesty the Queen as a constant, as she has gone about her duties. I remember—I am afraid that this was not yesterday, Madam Deputy Speaker—the occasion of the silver jubilee, when I was a very small girl in primary one or two. I recall receiving a commemorative coin to mark the occasion and the coins being very carefully taken home by all the children in the class.
It is remarkable that Her Majesty, at the age of 96, continues to deal with affairs of state, undertake official engagements, and support charities and good causes. Clearly, she also continues to take an ongoing and active interest in the things that she is interested in. It is well known that she has a lifelong love of the outdoors and enjoys being out and about. Her enjoyment at spending time in beautiful locations in Scotland, such as her homes in Balmoral and Holyrood, has been well reported over many years. And of course, she has attended the opening of the Scottish Parliament and been there a number of times. It is also well known that she has a love of animals. I understand that she has owned more than 30 corgis. That obvious fondness for pets is much appreciated by other dog lovers.
Beyond interests and hobbies for all of us is family. Like all Members, I was very sorry when Her Majesty the Queen lost her lifelong companion, her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. I cannot imagine how difficult it was to carry on, having lost someone who was at your side for so many years, and deal with that during the covid pandemic while continuing to undertake the duties required. It will have been very hard and those of us who have lost loved ones will appreciate that to some extent.
One perhaps unexpected piece of information for hon. Members is that since I was a very small child, I have always known the Queen’s birthday—21 April. I know that because it was also my gran’s birthday. My gran was a great admirer of Her Majesty and she must have told us about that coincidence a number of times for it to have stuck with me. Since being a young woman, she had followed the progress of the Queen. I think they had the same attitude to carrying on and helping others. I know the notion of public service was very important to my gran. For her part, she was very interested in seeing what the Queen was involved in, which charities she was supporting, where she was travelling to and so on. She also attended royal visits with some enthusiasm. I think she was interested in that because the late Queen Mother was an Angus girl. Having grown up in Angus myself, it is perhaps the case that people living in that area took a particular interest in what the Queen was doing.
The range of duties and the spectrum of groups, organisations and charities the Queen has supported over 70 years is undoubtedly extraordinary. In Scotland alone, she is patron of numerous charities, ranging from well-known names such as the YMCA to more local initiatives, including the Aberdeen Association of Social Service. She has supported many other charities over many years, including some based overseas. The royal family website makes that very clear, stating that the Queen sees public and voluntary service as one of the most important elements of her work.
I am sure I can speak for those involved in groups like those, as well as for my colleagues on the SNP Benches, when I say that this is indeed a notable occasion. I congratulate Her Majesty the Queen on the extraordinary occasion of her platinum jubilee and send all best wishes.
It is indeed a privilege to rise to pay tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on her platinum jubilee, on behalf of myself and my Maidenhead constituents.
Seventy years on the throne is a remarkable achievement. During each and every one of those years, what has shone through has been Her Majesty’s utter dedication to duty, her selflessness and her great love of country. She has served with dignity and grace through not only what have been some very remarkable changing times, but through some difficult years for her family. As has already been referred to, she has seen Prime Ministers come and go. I was No. 13. [Laughter.] But I echo the comments of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister when I say that she has greeted us all with charm and consideration, and with an impressive knowledge and understanding of the issues of the day. For all those 70 years, Her Majesty has been a rock for the nation, a point of stability around which the changing tides of history have swirled. Her commitment to service has been remarkable, and it should be an example and an inspiration to us all.
Most people see Her Majesty when she is on her official duties and do not see what goes on behind the scenes. I was pleased when, on the date of her platinum jubilee in February, the palace released photos of her with her private secretary going through her red box, which she does assiduously, but which is a part of her work of which few people are aware.
When the Queen is out and about on her official duties and people meet her, their joy and delight in seeing the Queen is obvious. That goes beyond our shores, as we have seen from her overseas visits, and I saw a little example of that when we hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting here in 2018. The Queen allowed us, very kindly, to meet at Windsor castle. There was a reception before the lunch and I was told that the Queen would turn up to it, but nobody else knew. The minute that she walked into the room, heads turned. There was a palpable sense of delight throughout the entire room and people started to queue up to make sure that they had the opportunity to speak to Her Majesty. We should particularly thank Her Majesty for all that she has done for the Commonwealth and for her great love of the Commonwealth. The strength and growth of that network of nations has been made all the more possible by the fact that she has been at its head.
Aside from official duties, I have also had the opportunity to see Her Majesty in more relaxed times; I speak particularly of the Prime Minister’s weekends at Balmoral. Her Majesty’s great desire for all her guests to be relaxed and enjoy themselves was absolutely clear. She takes great care to put people at ease and to ensure that they are enjoying the benefits of the beautiful Scottish countryside. During the time at Balmoral, I also saw Her Majesty’s great love and understanding of the countryside. She was driving us to a place where we were going to have one of the famous evening barbecues. There was a gate in the track, and in front of the gate stood a very large stag. Her Majesty slammed on the brakes and said, “What is he doing here?” To most drivers, that would have meant, “Why is he in my way?”, but not to Her Majesty. As she explained, she knew that the deer should be on a different part of the hillside. She could not understand why he had come down so low. She knew the countryside; she knew its animals.
The Queen’s love of gardens is clear, and her joy in being able to go to the Chelsea flower show this year could be seen by all. Her love of horses, which has also been referred to, was clear when she was able to attend the last evening of the Royal Windsor horse show. There was a particularly poignant moment when Lady Louise Windsor entered the arena driving the carriage of the late Duke of Edinburgh.
Her Majesty has been a constant presence in our lives. She is respected across the world. She has been steadfast in her selflessness, in her dedication to duty, in her commitment to her country. For 70 years, she has dedicated her life to service of her country and her people, and for that, from the bottom of our hearts, we say simply: Ma’am, thank you, and God save the Queen.
I commend the right hon. Lady on her platinum jubilee purple. If we had thought, it could have been made compulsory. Perhaps on another day.
It is a pleasure, on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, to join every party in the House today to send our best wishes and support this address to the Queen. Two weeks ago, following the Queen’s Speech, we sent our well wishes for Her Majesty’s health, so it has been wonderful to see the Queen out and about in the past two weeks at various celebrations and events—most recently opening her namesake, the Elizabeth line, and attending the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea flower show.
In her coronation speech, Queen Elizabeth said:
“Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust.”
I think the whole country will agree that our Queen has more than fulfilled her promises made to our nation. With her sense of selflessness and her steadfast commitment to the nation, these values and her service have defined Her Majesty’s seven-decade reign and will continue to define her. The unwavering nature of her service and duty is made all the more remarkable by the length of Her Majesty’s reign. Our Queen is the longest-reigning female monarch in history, not just of this country, but of anywhere in the world. Unlike any other monarch—in this country, at least—her reign has seen more peace and more prosperity than at any time in our nation’s history. The Queen’s gentle but strong presence throughout these years has been ever constant, and in challenging times, she is always a source of calm and comfort.
Her Majesty movingly described the Duke of Edinburgh, whose presence will be greatly missed at the jubilee celebrations, as her “strength and stay”. Well, truly, Her Majesty is the strength and stay of our nation. Through it all, she has remained above the fray of politics. That is so valuable and important, because we in this democratic place will inevitably have disagreements on many, many things. There are, and should be, many shades of opinion, but because of Her Majesty, being proud of our country—being patriotic—is not about someone’s political allegiance. It is not grounded in whether they agree with the Government of the day, so I am grateful that the Queen clearly values her loyal Opposition as much as her Government.
It is because of the Queen that Members from across the House—political polar opposites—can come together today and reflect on the many things that we have in common. We can all celebrate and share that sense of pride in our nation in this platinum jubilee. In 1977, 2002 and 2012, we were fortunate enough to enjoy other jubilees, with street parties, commemorative mugs and, of course, the unforgettable sight of Brian May playing guitar on the roof of Buckingham Palace.
I was at school when we celebrated the silver jubilee and, to be honest, my strongest memory of 1977 is the Queen’s smile and personal delight as Virginia Wade won Wimbledon. My fingers are crossed that Emma Raducanu might serve up something similar later this year.
For the golden jubilee in 2002, I was honoured to meet Her Majesty when she visited my constituency in the royal borough of Kingston. The Queen unveiled a stone commemorating the 1,100th anniversary of the coronation of King Edward the Elder—one of the great Anglo-Saxon kings—who was crowned in Kingston. In 2025, Kingston will celebrate the 1,100th anniversary of the crowning of King Athelstan, the first true, undisputed King of England. Nothing would bring me greater pleasure than to welcome our country’s greatest monarch back to Kingston to mark that special occasion.
As others have said, the highlight of the diamond jubilee in 2012 was watching the film when the Queen parachuted down to the opening ceremony of the summer Olympics. I have been honoured to have several conversations with the Queen over the years. I will not disclose those, but I will disclose a conversation that I had with Queen Margrethe of Denmark during the summer Olympics, when I was able to visit her on the royal yacht—it was a rather small affair compared with the one that the Government currently want to buy. I asked Queen Margrethe when she was taking up parachuting. She drew on a cigarette—Queen Margrethe of Denmark is a committed smoker—and said, “When I’m over 80.” She has some very kind words to say about Queen Elizabeth II.
As for the platinum jubilee, I am sure that, like me, colleagues across the House have already engaged in celebrations in our constituencies. Last Monday, I channelled my inner Mary Berry to judge a jubilee bake-off at Ellingham Primary School in Chessington. I was thrilled to crown Charlotte as the star baker for her delicious Union Jack cake, topped with raspberries and blueberries, and to present prizes, too, to year group winners Nancy and Aiden for their jubilee tributes.
Among the mountains of children’s sponge cakes and cupcakes, I was struck by two things: the huge temptation to cheat on my diet—I did not, Mr Deputy Speaker—and the palpable excitement and enthusiasm that young children had for the Queen and the jubilee. One of the joys of royal jubilees is seeing how they bring people together and the excitement of young people, especially in our communities and at their wonderful street parties—I am hoping to go to many in my constituency. I join Members in all parts of the House in wishing Her Majesty the very best on this momentous occasion.
Apart from the Father of the House, most hon. Members at this debate have lived under no other monarch. I was only one year old when the Queen came to the throne, so I must confess that my recollection of the last reign is somewhat dim, but I have been very happy to live during this one.
I am not sure whether it has yet been mentioned that the Queen is the only leading public figure who never asked for the job. She never campaigned for it, never plotted for it and probably never wanted it. Her whole life has been one of duty—what an incredible record.
Another point that has not been emphasised is that Her Majesty is one of the very few remaining leading public figures who acknowledge their faith. Others, perhaps, fear putting themselves on some kind of moral pedestal. Her faith is moderate, compassionate and non-judgmental, as she reminds us every year on the Feast of the Incarnation, in her Christmas address, and at the end of the Queen’s Speech. As we stand at the Bar of the other House, she tells us, “I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.” I doubt that they always do.
As Princess Elizabeth and as Queen Elizabeth, she has never been afraid of talking about her faith. Who can forget her 21st birthday speech in Cape Town? She addressed
“all the peoples of the British Commonwealth…wherever they live, whatever race they come from, and whatever language they speak”,
“my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service”.
She ended her address by invoking divine help:
“God help me to make good my vow, and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it.”
The reign of the first Queen Elizabeth was marked by religious bigotry, division and bloodshed—indeed, one of my ancestors was hung, drawn and quartered for his faith—but the reign of this Queen Elizabeth has been marked by unity, peace, freedom and toleration. Whether we are people of faith, atheists, humanists or secularists, we appreciate her long record of devoted service, which I am sure is founded on her faith, and we celebrate her whole life.
May I end with a personal point? I know that we are not supposed to talk about Privy Council meetings, but the Prime Minister has emboldened me by addressing, in part, what happens in his meetings with the sovereign. When I was made a Privy Counsellor, I mentioned to the present Clerk of the Privy Council that I was very proud that my father had been its clerk some 35 years earlier. The present clerk is a very modern civil servant, of course, so he looked completely blank, but when I summoned up the courage to mention it to Her Majesty, she immediately fixed me with an eagle eye and said, “Yes, I know it—I remember it.” That sums up not just her devotion to duty, but her formidable intellect. How lucky we are to have a Head of State who has such an incredibly long institutional memory.
It is an honour and privilege to speak in this debate on our Humble Address to Her Majesty the Queen. We are here today to celebrate her service to our nation, and to reflect on her momentous 70 years as our sovereign.
Her Majesty is now the third longest-serving monarch in world history. When we look over her reign, we see a world transformed. When the Queen came to the throne, the idea of someone holding a device with the power of a computer in their palm was pure science fiction; putting a human on the moon was still a dream; and the cold war was just getting started. Closer to home, the NHS was still in its infancy, and was giving people back control over their health. The welfare system was only just starting to truly level up the country. Those achievements laid the foundations of the nation that Her Majesty was about to be crowned to rule over, as she does to this day.
Our armed forces, who so loyally defend and protect Her Majesty and our country, have faced many deployments during her reign. The Government should use this auspicious year as a chance to renew our covenant with them. Her Majesty has proudly led our armed service personnel, and it is only right that in this Parliament we reflect her pride in them.
Under Her Majesty’s reign, the United Kingdom has witnessed fundamental changes in how society welcomes others and expresses our gratitude for their contribution. Her Majesty showed us the way to being a more compassionate society by advocating for the importance of the Commonwealth. She has been a driving force in bringing people together from across the world to celebrate our differences and share our joint aspirations for a more peaceful and prosperous world. Without a shadow of a doubt, the Commonwealth is one of Her Majesty’s greatest achievements.
The Queen is passionate about her horse-racing, as many hon. Members have said. In a debate on a Humble Address that celebrates her life and achievements, it would be remiss of me not to mention something that brings her so much joy. She has had some truly fantastic horses, including one of the most famous, Estimate. Many a race-going fan will remember the poignant moment in 2012 when Estimate won the Queen’s vase at Royal Ascot. It was presented to the Her Majesty by the late Duke of Edinburgh, whose service to our country we all so greatly value and miss. For Ministers on the Treasury Bench who like a flutter, I have spotted a few runners today that may be of interest. Oh So Audacious is running in the 2 pm at Yarmouth, followed by Enough Already in the 3.30. Then again, they may prefer Danger Alert in the 2.10 at Haydock.
If Her Majesty is looking for something to really put the cherry on the jubilee cake, I have just the thing: Maesteg town hall in my beloved Ogmore constituency is looking forward to its long-awaited grand reopening. I cannot think of anything better than welcoming Her Majesty for the grand unveiling. If anyone in the palace is listening, she is very welcome indeed.
Hon. Members’ speeches have rightly focused on Her Majesty’s dedication, and on her commitment to upholding our institutions and laws. The Queen’s integrity and quiet perseverance in the face of difficulty should be an example to us all. When she was needed, she delivered. It is vital that every single person in this Chamber lives up to the oath that we make when entering this House, and that we carry out our duty with the same honour and integrity that she has displayed for more than 70 years.
The platinum jubilee has the power to bring communities together. I know that is so in Ogmore; I look forward to the events that are planned in the towns and villages that make up my community. We have all faced an incredibly tough two years, but the jubilee celebrations will be a real tonic. Our high streets are being lined with bunting, while kitchens are starting to resemble explosions in a jelly factory as families try to recreate the platinum jubilee trifle. Most importantly, pressure is mounting on our forecasters for some decent weather over the bank holiday weekend.
Her Majesty represents the best of Britain. I thank her and wish her many, many more happy years as our sovereign.
It is a great honour to join my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and other colleagues on both sides of the House in our tribute to Her Majesty the Queen on the presentation of a Humble Address.
I speak on behalf of my constituents in the ancient and loyal borough of Newark-on-Trent—ancient because we received our royal charter from Her Majesty’s forebear Henry II, and loyal because in May 1646, Newark was the last town in the royalist cause to surrender in the civil war. It did so only on receipt of a personal command from the King, who gave himself up to the Scots outside the town. The town’s defenders were impoverished, starving and riddled with disease, but all the contemporary accounts show that they were entirely unrepentant and committed in their loyalty to the sovereign. Then, the Crown relied on the loyalty of the people—and it does so even more in our modern democracy. Loyalty is a vague concept that can apply in many human situations. We can be loyal to our parents, our siblings, our friends, our employers and even—although this is less common—to party leaders. The loyalty that binds us to the Crown is peculiar, in that it is not based on any family tie or material consideration. In that sense, then and now, loyalty has had to be earned.
I am sure that the whole House will agree that Her Majesty the Queen, over her uniquely long reign, has earned the loyalty of her country. The nation holds her in its heart, not just as the figurehead of a great institution, but as an individual who has served our country with unerring grace, dignity and decency. She has been a golden thread running through the warp and the weft of our lives. My grandmother joined her in the crowds that lined The Mall on VE Day. My father watched the coronation on a rented television set in the crowded front room of the one house in the street whose occupant could afford one. It was the first time he had seen a TV set other than in a shop window. Today he says that what struck him most was how beautiful the Queen looked, even on a terrible-quality black-and-white TV. Afterwards, he lit a bonfire with his friends in the middle of their street. It would be several years before the council filled in the pothole, so some things never change.
Almost 70 years later, I had the privilege of meeting Her Majesty as a Minister, often virtually, as that was how Privy Council meetings were conducted during the pandemic. Samuel Pepys recorded that during the civil war, Newark’s then representative communicated with the King by writing in cypher and concealing the script in a lead ball, which he asked the messenger to swallow and then pass out on arrival at the court. Fortunately for all concerned, Her Majesty has proved adept at using Zoom. Indeed, she always moves with the times.
When I accompanied my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the Palace in 2019, after the short ceremony of giving us our seals of office had been completed and a few words had been exchanged, Her Majesty said—I hope this does not betray any confidence—“Well, I suppose we had all better get back to work.” That was that, and I think that is her. She is an example of efficiency, dedication, common sense, humility and good humour.
Few countries, if any, have been as fortunate as ours in having such an anchor, bracing us against the storms and providing a well of consistency and certainty. Few countries are fortunate enough to have someone who can represent the whole nation, and we need that now more than ever. Few countries have benefited from such a capable and knowledgeable ambassador on the international stage. Indeed, she is arguably the most admired and respected public figure in the world today.
Her Majesty the Queen has been guided by the pledge to serve that she gave on her 21st birthday in 1947. The words were simple, and we politicians know how easy it is to make promises and pledges; but the years have shown that they were uttered with deep conviction. The fulfilment of that promise has been the story of her life. My constituents in the loyal borough of Newark, and all of us in this House, would agree that Her Majesty the Queen has kept that pledge in full measure.
Diolch yn fawr, Mr Dirprwy Lefarydd. I thank you for the opportunity to congratulate Queen Elizabeth on celebrating the remarkable milestone of reaching 70 years since she acceded to the throne. That is indeed what you call a lifetime of service. I take this opportunity to put on record my gratitude to the Queen and to Buckingham Palace who, on Monday this week, planted the John Ystumllyn rose in the Buckingham Palace gardens. The rose was planted in memory of the life and legacy of John Ystumllyn, the first recorded black man—indeed, black person—in North Wales following his abduction as a child from western Africa in the 18th century. The rose was launched in his honour by Harkness Roses and by We Too Built Britain as part of its work of telling and uncovering the stories of under-represented people. The rose is therefore a powerful symbol of friendship and love, kindness and community, and those visiting the gardens at Buckingham Palace will now have an opportunity to reflect on his story and on what the rose represents for many years to come.
While we still have a long way to go, the rose is also a reminder of how far we have come as a society in the last 70 years. In 1952, for example, there were just 17 women in Parliament. In this Parliament, we have 225 MPs who are women, and I am proud to be the first woman to lead the Plaid Cymru group in Westminster. As the leader of my party, Adam Price, noted in the Senedd in his tributes earlier this week, the Queen’s first official visit to Wales, on 28 March 1944, was also a momentous day for women’s rights. This was the day on which MPs voted to pay women teachers the same as men. The same as men! Can you imagine that? And there was such opposition to it at the time. This was an important—indeed, critical—milestone in the wider struggle for equality. During the Queen’s reign, women have fought for and gained reproductive rights. We have also made progress on equal pay, with key legislation passed in the 1970s and ’80s, and now there is a growing movement calling for fair recognition of the work that women do in caring for children and families. These are among the bright strands of social progress woven into the tapestry of the Queen’s life and reign.
The Queen has been present for some of the most important events in recent history for Wales as a nation —our Wales. In 1999, the Queen was present for the inaugural opening of our Parliament. Last year—over two decades later—she returned to open our Parliament’s sixth Session. In that time, our Parliament has become the Senedd, gained important legislative powers, and introduced legislation reflective of all the voices and aspirations of Welsh society. Now, the Senedd is set to consider proposals for historic reforms that will pave the way for a stronger Welsh democracy, with a greater ability to improve the lives of people across our country, energise our politics, and make our elected Parliament fairer, more representative, and thus more effective.
To close, and to echo the comments of my right hon. Friend Lord Wigley of Caernarfon, I am not instinctively a monarchist but, in her jubilee year, I stand in respect of the remarkable way Her Majesty the Queen has carried out her responsibilities over the years with consistency, dignity and grace. She has been a constant figure in all our lives. Llongyfarchiadau a phob dymuniad da i chi. Diolch yn fawr iawn.
I am delighted to participate in the debate. What an historic moment it is—the first time we can celebrate a platinum jubilee in this place. I join colleagues in wholeheartedly thanking Her Majesty the Queen. I also thank her on behalf of all the residents of Loughborough, Shepshed, Barrow upon Soar, Quorn, Hathern, Sileby, Mountsorrel and the Wolds villages for her lifetime of public service and her unwavering dedication to the people of the UK and those across the Commonwealth. What an impressive feat to be both the longest serving monarch in the UK and the third—soon to be the second—longest serving monarch ever to have lived.
Loughborough has had the privilege of hosting Her Majesty on a number of occasions during her reign, including on 28 June 1996, when she came to open the new English and drama building at Loughborough Grammar School; it was named the Queen’s Building in her honour. The school’s deputy head, John Weitzel, shared this anecdote with me:
“The Queen arrived in pouring rain to be greeted by the 2,000 children of the Loughborough Schools’ Foundation. After formally opening the new English and Drama Studio, as she entered the building for a tour she gave instructions that the children should return to their respective Schools, rather than continue to get wet waiting for her. I chose to ignore the instructions, and fortunately the rain ceased and after touring the building she walked through the Quad to the main Hall. To me this showed that she cared more about the children’s welfare than I did.”
Her Majesty also visited Loughborough on 19 April 1966, when she signed and sealed the royal charter of incorporation that granted university status to Loughborough College of Technology. The Loughborough University of Technology was the first technological university in England and Wales. Since then, the university has thrived, becoming the largest employer in Loughborough and having a global reputation for its cutting-edge theoretical and applied research. Professor Nick Jennings, the university’s vice-chancellor, said:
“Loughborough University was granted its Royal Charter by Her Majesty in April 1966 and we are immensely proud of the success we have achieved through our teaching, research, enterprise and sport activities since that time. We have been honoured to receive seven Queen’s Anniversary Prizes and it has also been a great privilege to host Her Majesty on campus several times, most notedly in 2003 when she visited with the Duke of Edinburgh to open the ECB National Cricket Academy. Everyone at the University is excited and delighted that the Queen’s baton relay will pass through the campus on 11 July as it makes its way to Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games. On behalf of all staff and students at Loughborough I would like to thank Her Majesty for her 70 years of service to the country. We send our best wishes for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.”
Of course, as well as academic achievements, Loughborough University is synonymous with sporting excellence, having trained many athletes who have gone on to represent the UK in international competitions, including at the Commonwealth, Olympic and Paralympic games. I am proud to say that Loughborough is the unofficial home of Commonwealth sport in England, and I share the vice-chancellor’s delight that we will be hosting a leg of the Queen’s baton relay.
The Commonwealth is, of course, the jewel in the crown. Throughout her reign, Her Majesty has overseen the Commonwealth’s modernisation to ensure that it represents everyone and brings together communities from across the world. Indeed, shortly after her accession to the throne, Her Majesty stated:
“The Commonwealth bears no resemblance to the empires of the past. It is an entirely new conception built on the highest qualities of the spirit of man: friendship, loyalty, and the desire for freedom and peace. To that new conception of an equal partnership of nations and races I shall give myself heart and soul every day of my life.”
Her Majesty has been absolutely true to her word, as this strong commitment to bridging the gaps between communities for their own betterment has been a common thread throughout her reign.
In the same way, local residents in my constituency from all backgrounds will be coming together next weekend to celebrate Her Majesty’s achievements. In Loughborough, on 30 and 31 May, the Bellfoundry Museum is holding a “ring for royalty” event. There is also a Great Central Railway celebration and the lighting of the beacon in Queen’s Park on 2 June. Queen’s Park also plays host to a big lunch on 5 June. In addition, there are a number of Thorpe Acre village events from 2 to 5 June, and the Wheeltapper pub will be holding a jubilee party from 3 to 5 June.
In Shepshed, the Word of Life church is holding a family fun day on 3 June, and there is a platinum jubilee concert on 4 June at Glenmore Park. In Mountsorrel, there is an afternoon tea dance at Memorial Hall on 3 June, and the Peter Le Marchant Trust is running jubilee boat trips throughout the week. In Quorn, there is a jubilee fair at Stafford orchard on 4 June. In Barrow upon Soar, there is a party in the park on 4 June. And there is a street party at the Stockwell in Wymeswold on 5 June. We are very keen on the Queen.
All these community events are testament to the huge impact Her Majesty’s hard work and dedication have had on the people of Loughborough and, indeed, on people in every corner of the world. I am sure I speak for all of Loughborough when I say, “God bless Her Majesty the Queen, and thank you.”
I am very conscious that, as you were one of my university students a long time ago, Mr Deputy Speaker, you are expecting a lot of history. However, having heard all the remarks so far on the great history, I am getting rid of that. Although I have had some dodgy ancestors, no one has ever been hung, drawn and quartered—yet.
May I be very personal in terms of my respect, admiration and love for the Queen and my pleasure at contributing to this address on her platinum jubilee? When I was doing my 11-plus exam at Kenyngton Manor School in Sunbury-on-Thames, I looked up from the paper and saw something strange: the caretaker was taking the flag down in a funny way—he was taking it down to half-mast. I have that early memory of the sad time when George VI passed away, and the Queen became Queen Elizabeth II. I remember that very well. Of course all of us have the memories from our childhood—the bonfires and the fun. Many of us in public life have had the luck of meeting the Queen several times and it was the sense of fun that I was most inspired by.
Early on, as a young Member of Parliament, I went to a civic occasion because the President of Brazil was visiting. I sat there and had a very nice time. The whole royal family were there, a couple of speeches were made and there was a melee when people went to get their coffee. Suddenly, I saw this small woman coming towards me and my wife, and she said, “Hello, I’m the Queen.” I was taken aback. She said, “I understand you have four children” and we got into conversation, because she has four children and we have four children—it was a lovely conversation. She said, “Could you tell me one thing? The violinist in the small band, he was wearing an earring on his ear. Does that mean anything special?” My wife and I looked at each other with some puzzlement and could not give her an answer. There was this sense of fun. Every time I met her, there was something quite funny and mischievous, but lovely.
I was lucky enough to work closely with the Duke of Edinburgh, both on his wonderful work on design and on a Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce investigation into the future of the English countryside. That was a great joy because we met at the RSA and in Buckingham Palace. I was astonished at the close relationship between him and the Queen, and at his sense of fun. There was a Labour, a Conservative and Lib Dem Lord on that commission and he always had some bit of information to tease us with.
We had a wonderful annual reception for the Duke of Edinburgh’s prize for design and there would be a lovely party. The Queen said to me, “You know that my husband has a secret method when greeting people. He shakes them by the hand and then sort of swings them away.” So for the rest of the evening, I watched the Duke of Edinburgh and his wonderful way of shaking someone’s hand and then throwing them on to the next business. So a sense of fun is something I remember.
I am the Member of Parliament for Huddersfield. They love the Queen in Huddersfield. We are a very diverse community, much more so than when she became Queen. Everybody in our community in Huddersfield loves and adores the Queen. She has come to my constituency, to the town, twice. Those Members who are not on the railway will not know this, but if the Queen comes to their constituency by train, the mayor greets her and the Member of Parliament is the next to greet her. The first time the Queen came to Huddersfield, my wife was abroad. I got in touch with the people who were organising the Queen’s visit and said, “Would it be all right if I brought two of my children instead of my wife?” The message came back, “Yes, indeed!” So little John and little Verity came along with me to the station. The Queen immediately stopped, because it was quite unusual—all the rest were sort of boring middle-aged people—and she was delighted to meet these two children and have a conversation with them. It is those personal things that I remember. On her two visits to Huddersfield, the Queen was very well received and great fun.
I do not want to go into too much detail in respect of what we are doing to celebrate in Huddersfield but, like the hon. Member for Loughborough (Jane Hunt), we are going to have lots of events. I remember some of the events when I was little. I do not want to give my age away—although everybody knows it—but the first television I saw, in black and white, was the coronation service, although I have to say it was the next-door neighbour’s television, not our own.
One of the Queen’s special visits to Huddersfield was to open the amateur rugby league centre. What better time could there be to remember the opening of that centre? Of course, those who are not so well up on rugby league will perhaps not know that it was founded in 1895 in the George Hotel in Huddersfield. Working men in the north of England had to work six days a week and, if they played sport, they lost a day’s wages. All the posh people in the south of England who played rugby said it would be disgraceful to give them the extra money that they lost from not working on that day. In the end, all the clubs met in the George in 1895 and said, “We will start a new game called rugby league, with 13 in the team rather than 15 and rather different rules.” The only plug that I will make is that this weekend at Tottenham, for the first time in very many years, Huddersfield are playing for the Challenge cup. That made me think of the Queen’s visit.
The last thing I want to say is that we have had really tumultuous times. We kind of forget them, don’t we? But we have gone through some really tough times in our country. We have had good moments, but we have had really tough times. We have had tough times when people in this House have not been very nice to each other. There are times when we have, I think, let ourselves down. The whole country became very divided on political grounds, in the nasty sense of division. The Queen should be recognised for having the ability to bring all those divisions together and to be that act of unity. I have not been privy to the meetings with Prime Ministers or anyone else, but I know in my heart that over these years the Queen has had an influence in calming down elected politicians when they have fallen out. When we have become too aggressive, too personal and too unpleasant to each other, she has been that calming influence behind the scenes, and she has sometimes taken a profile in that calming process.
I am proud to be here today, both personally and on the behalf of my constituents in Huddersfield.
It is a great privilege and honour to congratulate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth on her platinum jubilee on behalf of my constituents of North West Cambridgeshire.
On a tour of Africa, the then 21-year-old Princess Elizabeth took a vow, which has been referred to by earlier speakers. Taking that vow, she said:
“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be dedicated to your service”.
Her Majesty has truly kept that vow. With her matchless sense of duty, she has worked tirelessly and given the nation and the Commonwealth 70 years of dedicated service. Throughout that period, until very recently, she had the unwavering support by her side of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.
During Her Majesty’s reign, there have been 14 UK Prime Ministers, the first being Sir Winston Churchill. There have been 14 US Presidents, starting with Harry S. Truman, and Pope Pius XII was the first of seven popes. There have also been 10 Speakers, beginning with William Morrison, covering 19 Parliaments. In 1952, there were only eight Commonwealth countries, compared with the 54 that we now have.
It has been an extraordinary reign, during which our country and the world have witnessed enormous change. To put matters into perspective, I was born in Kakira in Uganda at a time when Uganda was still part of the British empire. My family arrived here in the ‘60s and now I, the son of an immigrant carpenter, proudly stand in this House paying tribute to Her Majesty on behalf of my constituents from North West Cambridgeshire.
Compared with 1952, there are now in the UK more opportunities for people to rise as far as their talent and ability will take them, and more opportunities for education, home ownership, better health, more leisure time and more prosperity generally. As has been mentioned by previous speakers, we are a much more diverse nation—diversity of race, diversity of faith and diversity of culture. Through it all, Her Majesty has provided continuity, a platinum thread through the decades, a voice for good whose advice has been sought by world leaders across the four corners of the world. Her Majesty has also played a crucial constitutional role. She has been the guarantor of the constitutional integrity of our nation, providing stability and constancy throughout the decades.
On a more local level, my constituency is relatively new, having been formed in 1997. It comprises the southern part of Peterborough and 100 or so villages, including many in the northern part of Huntingdonshire. Records show that, in 1978, Her Majesty visited the national Shire Horse Society centenary show at Alwalton. She opened the Peterborough Building Society’s head office at Lynch Wood in 1988, and in 1991 there were traffic hold-ups as 3,000 extra visitors tried to see the Queen at the East of England Show.
Moreover, in June 2012, Her Majesty was the guest of Lady Victoria and Mr Simon Leatham, marking the Queen’s diamond jubilee picnic at Burghley House, when some 7,000 people came along to enjoy music and aerial displays.
My constituency has changed in many ways in the past 70 years. A large part of it—the Peterborough part —was, until 1974, part of Northamptonshire. However, while much has changed during Her Majesty’s reign, some things are timeless. I am sure that, were T.S. Eliot alive today, he would agree that the village of Little Gidding, of “Four Quartets” fame, is the same now as it was in 1945 when he published his poem.
Something else that is timeless is the love and affection that my constituents feel for Her Majesty. Sir John Colville spoke for many when he said 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.”
My congratulations again, and I thank Her Majesty for a lifetime of service to our nation and the Commonwealth.
It is an honour to be here today to pay tribute to her Majesty the Queen.
The Queen truly defines our modern history. Through the 70 years she has reigned, huge changes have occurred. In 1952, when Princess Elizabeth acceded to the throne, Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister, tea was still rationed and British troops were fighting the war in Korea. Some 14 Prime Ministers, 21,000 engagements and 70 years later, Queen Elizabeth II is now Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, having seen us through every milestone in recent history. The constant amid such change, the Queen has been nothing but a loyal servant to her country, and across Barnsley we remain incredibly grateful for her work and service.
Indeed, Her Majesty has visited Barnsley, most notably in July 1977 as part of her trip to Yorkshire on her silver jubilee tour. In the coming days and weeks, our town will once again come together to mark the 70th year of the Queen’s reign, her platinum jubilee. Bunting will decorate our town centre and on 2 June a commemorative beacon will be lit in the Glass Works Square, at the same time as over 2,000 others across the country.
Across the region, there will also be a number of events such as the service of celebration at Sheffield Cathedral. As part of the jubilee celebrations we congratulate our neighbours in Doncaster on gaining city status; I know that my right hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster Central (Dame Rosie Winterton) is particularly pleased, after all her years of campaigning, to see Doncaster become a city. There will also be community events across Barnsley East, from Grimethorpe to Hoyland, such as the garden party at Owd Martha’s Yard, where there will be a brass band and maypole dancing. Brass bands remain popular across south Yorkshire, and I pay tribute to the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, who performed “Brassed Off Live” at the Royal Albert Hall last night, 25 years after the iconic film was released.
It is great to hear that local schools will be holding celebrations too. Ellis Church of England primary school, Jump primary school and Forest Academy are all hosting red, white and blue days with lots of activities, including special picnic lunches. High View primary school and West Meadows primary school are also hosting themed lunches, with the former creating an exhibition of work to commemorate each decade of the Queen’s reign, and the latter hosting a sports day and poetry recital.
Jubilee celebrations provide a fantastic opportunity for people of all generations to come together and feel united as a community, as we honour the contribution Her Majesty the Queen has made over the past 70 years. We thank her for her service. God save the Queen.
On behalf of my constituents, it is a great privilege and honour to pay tribute to Her Majesty on an extraordinary achievement. We offer our deepest gratitude, thanks and congratulations for her sense of duty and public service, which has been the hallmark of her extraordinarily long reign, a reign that, I believe, was also inspired at least in part by her love for and dedication to her father, King George VI.
Not many monarchs make their platinum jubilee—yet another achievement in a long and accomplished reign. The vast majority of us have known no other monarch, so we are true Elizabethans. In a changing world, she remains a fixed point. Across seven decades, we have all benefited from Her Majesty’s quiet authority, dignity and firm understanding of the British people and our constitution. She has also been a great unifying force across the UK.
On the world stage, the Queen reigns supreme as a peerless ambassador not only for the United Kingdom, but for her example of selfless public service. She has been central in helping the country transition from empire to Commonwealth, to the benefit of all the countries and peoples involved. Her dedication and energy in serving her people are unparalleled in our history, and we all owe the Queen a huge debt of gratitude. She reminds us that leadership is about serving and, above all, leading by example.
At times, Her Majesty has steered our monarchy through challenging shoals, but there is little doubt that it now stands in good stead for the future. We recall the extraordinary photograph in which she featured along with the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince George—our current Queen with the three future Kings. In a sometimes uncertain world, the monarchy is an important strength and stay.
In Her Majesty’s address on her 21st birthday she dedicated her life to the service of the Commonwealth and her people, whether it be long or short. We have been fortunate that she has been granted a long life, and long may she reign over us. I know that my constituents will join me, as we all agree in this place, in saying God save the Queen.
I call Jim Shannon.
You threw me off there, Mr Deputy Speaker—I do not often get called so early in the debate. I am pleased to be called, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate.
It has been an honour to be an MP serving Her Majesty during her platinum jubilee year. It was my honour as a much younger man to serve her in uniform, and to do so for 14 and a half years. I do not take serving in this House for granted and feel incredibly privileged and humbled to be here today.
I have many titles: husband, dad, granda, James to my mother and Jim to everybody that has known me since I was 18 years old, hon. Friend, Unionist, loyalist and, more aptly today, royalist. I was raised in Northern Ireland at a time when most houses had either a photo of the Queen or a photo of the Pope; I was raised with a photograph of the Queen. That will not be a surprise to anybody, but that was the Northern Ireland that we lived in. I had great respect for her from my family’s teaching, and that respect has only grown as I have watched Her Majesty over the years and been impacted by her unparalleled service, her matchless dignity, her peerless dedication and her unrivalled work ethic. That was an ethic that that generation, my parents’ generation, clearly had.
To watch her composed face as she sat alone at Prince Philip’s funeral, refusing to ask for special consideration and in solidarity with the notion that she had not been the only person grieved and that she would do what her subjects were being asked to do, even at the very advanced age of 95, reaffirmed all I knew of the character of my Queen. The memory of her alone in that chapel touched many of us and encouraged us through the most heartrending example of her display of duty and quiet dignity with which Queen Elizabeth II is synonymous.
The right hon. Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh) is no longer here, but he mentioned her Christian faith and I want to refer to that too, as it is so important. I pray for many people in this House, but I pray for Her Majesty and the royal family every day. In recent years, I have been further inspired by the quiet faith that she holds so dear and that informs each aspect of her life. It has been wonderfully and reverently included in her annual Christmas speeches. As one newspaper said:
“As Britain has become more secular, the Queen’s messages have followed the opposite trajectory…for the past 17 years, her messages have taken on a different tone, with the Queen explaining her own personal faith”.
I want to quote what she said on one of those occasions, in 2014:
“For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role-model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people of whatever faith or none.”
She also said:
“Billions of people now follow Christ’s teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love”.
How much Her Majesty’s words have encouraged me to live my faith in a respectful, personal yet open way, attempting at all times to speak the truth in love. I know that many of us who love this institution—this House, this wonderful tradition we have here—will also love the lady herself and will be concerned that the Queen’s mobility recently is a sign of greater concerns. I take great comfort, however, from the measured way in which her heirs, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge, are coming forward with a steady hand.
When we look at the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their modernised approach, soundly built on the historic foundation laid by Her Majesty, it is crystal clear that our monarchy will continue as an example of selfless duty and service. Back in 2012, I had occasion to bring my mother and father over to the garden party —it was the first and only time they were ever there. My mum was 81 and my dad was 83, so the people at the garden party were very kind and managed to find chairs. There were plenty of chairs about, but they went and got chairs for mum and dad to sit in as Prince Philip and the Queen came round. That was probably one of the best occasions of my parents’ life. They were absolutely thrilled. My mum was really interested in all the vol-au-vents, wee small cakes and sweet stuff, while my dad was interested in the garden, so the two of them had an absolutely fantastic time and they talked about that garden party for many years after. I know they did not get to meet the Queen and Prince Philip directly, but when the Queen came around, I think she saw them sitting down and made it her business to acknowledge them, which of course made my mum and dad’s day.
My constituency of Strangford is full of royalists—I was going to say loyalists, and they are loyalists too—and there will be dozens of platinum jubilee parties and events taking place the weekend after next. It will be of no surprise to the House to learn that my office is full of royalists as well. My parliamentary aide was beside herself when she was able to attend the Queen’s garden party just two weeks ago, after 18 years of working with me. I take joy in seeing my two younger staff members in their 20s excited about what the Duchess of Cambridge is up to and talking of their respect for her grace and dignity in the face of adversity. It bodes well for the future, and we should be encouraged that Her Majesty is leading the royal family in a way that will continue in the future.
Not only do I admire Her Majesty for who she is, but I admire her steady hand on the legacy she is leaving with Prince Charles, Prince William and even little Prince George, who has a special place in all our hearts. In a world of celebrity motivated by the number of likes on a tweet, empty sermonising and self-service hailed as worthy of admiration, we can look at the pledge she made at her coronation and see the epitome of a promise fulfilled. The hon. Member for North West Cambridgeshire (Shailesh Vara) referred to it, and I want to refer to it, too. I have often thought about those words, because they are good words for each of us. She said:
“I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service”.
Her Majesty has done that and more in every one of those 70 years. She is a lady of refinement, grace, selfless dedication to duty and service, diligence, intelligence, humour, wit and faith. I could not be prouder to be British—I am always very pleased to say I am British—and proclaim her as my Queen. Long may she continue to reign over us. God save the Queen.
It is an honour to speak in support of this Humble Address to Her Majesty the Queen on behalf of my constituents in Meon Valley. I was delighted yesterday to discuss Her Majesty’s long service with some children from Denmead Junior School in my constituency, who were here on a visit with the wonderful Parliament Education Centre. They were in the Monarch room. I met a group of school councillors, and we discussed how their work as representatives of their classes mirrors the work we do here in Parliament representing our constituents. I mentioned that I would be speaking today in this debate, and I asked them what messages they thought they might like to send to Her Majesty. The first response was that they would like to say thank you to her for being a “really nice monarch”. Another response was that Her Majesty
“has been amazing and helped our country”.
One remark, which I thought showed a precocious understanding of our constitution, said that Her Majesty “uses her powers wisely”. Sir Walter Bagehot would approve.
With Her Majesty’s expertise in our nation’s affairs stretching from Sir Winston Churchill to the present day, covering 14 Prime Ministers, I am sure she has always given wise counsel to those who carry on the business of Government in her name. I was also asked to pass on the children’s thanks for all Her Majesty’s patience and hard work. Everyone recognises how hard she has worked throughout her life, but I was struck by the word “patience”. She has remained patient and dignified, despite some vicious commentary at times in the media about her and her family, with which I think all hon. Members can empathise. I was pleased that the children recognised that there are bound to be times when being our sovereign is not easy or without complications, yet she has remained dignified and resolute.
Lastly, the council thanked Her Majesty for helping lots of different countries. She began her life as the daughter of a King Emperor and, during her reign, has seen the lives of millions of people transformed by the creation of democratic self-governing societies. Most of them have retained their links to us and to each other through the Commonwealth, and in many cases those links have been strengthened through migration. As head of the Commonwealth, she has been the most respected figure in world affairs throughout her reign, and I know that the jubilee will be marked around the world as an expression of love for our sovereign.
My life began in Aden, which was a British protectorate, and I spent most of my childhood in Commonwealth countries in the middle east while my father served Her Majesty for 46 years. In every country, she is recognised as a symbol of stability and continuity. Many millions of people have served in her name, as my father did, and she is a veteran herself, as she served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service during world war two. In the armed forces, she and other women of her generation were trailblazers in roles that were previously not open to them. Over the years, her successors have been able to break into more and more careers that were previously reserved for men. In the armed forces in particular, I am pleased that we are finally doing away with the last anachronisms of ranks that reflect an assumption that they are held by men.
I end by reflecting again on how pleased I was by the response of the children I met at Denmead Junior School yesterday. It gives me confidence that Her Majesty is an example of the values that we should all aspire to and hope that our children adopt, and that continue to resonate with people whose lives will stretch well beyond ours. Long may she reign.
It is a pleasure to be called to speak in this debate to mark the platinum jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen on behalf of constituents across Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney. As has been said, most people in this country simply do not remember a time when the Queen was not there as the ever-present and reassuring presence that she has been through dramatically changing times over 70 years—a truly remarkable achievement.
I will briefly reflect on the links between the Queen and my constituency. She has made a number of visits to Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, but none more poignant than the multiple visits that she has made to the village of Aberfan. Her first visit was just days after the tragedy in October 1966 and the most recent was to open the new Ynysowen Community Primary School as part of her diamond jubilee tour in April 2012. I know that many people in Aberfan and across the constituency appreciate the special bond that they have with the Queen and the royal family.
I sincerely believe that the Queen and the royal family are a huge asset to our country. The Queen is there to represent the whole nation, be a conduit for national events and provide reassurance in difficult times. She is a uniting factor for all the nations and regions across the whole UK—an unwavering constant in a changing world. The right hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd (Liz Saville Roberts) spoke earlier about the links with Wales. It is important to recognise that the Queen has been present to officially open every Session of the Assembly and now Senedd from 1999 to October last year.
From a young age, I have been passionate about community, and particularly community spirit. One of my earliest recollections is as a six-year-old taking part in the silver jubilee street party with friends and neighbours in the street where I still live, albeit in a different house. We will be having a street party there a week on Sunday in the same way that we did for the golden and diamond jubilees.
Community spirit is still very much alive in many of our communities, although it may not be as strong as it once was. Most people live busy lives, and certainly very different ones from those of our parents and grandparents in 1952, but if people are given a reason to come together from time to time, that community spirit very much comes to the fore. There is no better focus for bringing communities together in a positive way than a jubilee or royal event.
Our communities have been through a very difficult two years, and what the whole country went through together as a collective was extremely painful. However, as painful as it was, the positive, if there was a positive, was that it seemed to rekindle a community spirit in many areas. People were once again on hand to help their friends and particularly their vulnerable neighbours. I have spoken to a number of people who set up WhatsApp groups and chat groups with their neighbours to get through the pandemic, and many have kept that communication going.
I am aware of a number of events being held across my constituency to celebrate the jubilee. Indeed, this week Twitter and Facebook have been full of activities going on in local schools. Tomorrow, I will be attending a number of jubilee celebrations in local schools. Next week, there will be church services, afternoon teas, displays of photos from across the Queen’s reign, carnivals, fun days, a night of nostalgia and ’50s music, a beacon lighting in Penderyn Square in Merthyr Tydfil and other areas across the constituency—and, of course, street parties, some organised and some on a more informal basis. All of those events will have two things in common: to mark the Queen’s service to our communities and our country over 70 years, but also to bring people together in a national celebration, which is a fitting tribute to acknowledge Her Majesty’s service to our communities, our country and, indeed, the Commonwealth.
It is worth highlighting that the jubilee will also support the local and, indeed, the national economy. I have spoken to organisers of community events over the jubilee weekend who have commented on the difficulties they have had in securing things for their events. One told me they had difficulty in hiring a face painter for the children, stating that the people they had contacted had told them they had been booked for weeks, but in the last month were getting three or four calls a day for bookings over the jubilee weekend. Other organisers have said they are struggling to get cabaret artists for the jubilee weekend, being told by agents that their acts have been booked up months in advance. Some organisers have even struggled to hire Portaloos for outside events, and I hope they are successful in getting those. In all seriousness, that represents the scale of activity going on across the jubilee weekend. It will certainly be busy in many communities with a range of events, but it will inevitably lead to a boost for the local and the national economy.
In conclusion, I return to the role of the Queen herself. As we know, for over 70 years she has been a constant. She has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to the service of the nation and the Commonwealth. She is the longest serving Head of State in the world, the longest reigning monarch in British history and the longest reigning female monarch in history. As Mr Speaker said in his opening address, which was read by the Chairman of Ways and Means, she is the third longest reigning monarch in world history. However, just as an update, in 20 days’ time she will become the second longest reigning monarch in world history, and in only two years’ time she will overtake Louis XIV to become the longest reigning monarch ever. That is some achievement.
As we have heard, on her 21st birthday, Princess Elizabeth said that
“my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service”.
That statement was sincere, as has been evidenced by her exemplary service over 70 years. I know that the whole House will agree that the jubilee is a time for great celebration. I hope that it will also be an opportunity to thank the Queen for her service and that it will reinforce to Her Majesty just how much love and respect people across the UK and the Commonwealth have for her in this jubilee year.
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Gerald Jones) and all the gracious speeches from right across the House, and what an honour and a privilege it is for me personally to speak on behalf of my constituents in South Dorset, a very loyal county, to mark the Queen’s remarkable 70-year reign.
In fact, the monarch’s longevity is such that “platinum jubilee” is not defined in the “Compact Oxford English Dictionary”, whereas “golden jubilee” is. The publication refers to the latter as the 50th anniversary of “a significant event”, which it certainly was. Can I make a suggestion for the former? Perhaps it could be defined as the 70th anniversary of “our great national treasure who epitomises grace, dignity and duty”.
I would like to remind the House of the quote that several Members have used—they may have been looking at my speech and cheating—but it is a very appropriate quote that Princess Elizabeth made to the Commonwealth on her 21st birthday. I want to repeat it because it is so powerful and simple:
“I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service”.
Our Queen has kept her word, and we are all the richer for it.
I have had the honour and pleasure to serve the Queen for nine years in the armed forces and to meet her in person twice. It is appropriate therefore to mention next Thursday’s trooping the colour. I recall with great clarity and pride being on parade for three of them many years ago. There is a moment during the march past in slow time when you salute Her Majesty with your sword; the movement is graceful and flowing, and with your head firmly to the right, you look directly at the Queen. It is quite a moment. Her expression is impassive, but you know—we all knew—that every movement is being scrutinised and any slip-up noted. Her attention to detail is legendary and, for those who get it wrong, really quite scary.
The loyalty the Queen commands from the military is one of the many reasons our armed forces are the best in the world. Many friends who fought in the Falklands war told me that their best friend was the soldier beside them, but that loyalty to Queen and country drove them to commit acts of bravery that no one under normal circumstances would consider; it is called service and sacrifice, which in my humble opinion epitomises the Queen.
As I have said, I have met the Queen twice. On the first occasion, our battalion, based not far from here at Wellington barracks, was graced by not one Queen, but two: the Queen and Queen Mother. They were attending the presentation of new colours, and the photograph of that hangs proudly on my wall. The second occasion was when Her Majesty opened the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy prior to the sailing games in my constituency. The many attendees were formed into groups of about eight, and we watched and waited as the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh worked the room, stopping to talk to every single one of us. I wondered then just how many times the couple had done this, and I marvelled at their nobility, patience—we have heard that word many times today—and endurance. The room was abuzz, and the reception the royal couple received was close to adoration. However, this was not some infatuation: it was a mixture of respect and affection generated by years of flawless service.
Finally, like, I am sure, many in the House, I watched “The Crown”. I paid little or no attention to the tittle-tattle in the script, but I was blown away by the historical sweep of the Queen’s life and the role she has played in our island’s history for 96 years. I was so moved that I wrote to her simply to say thank you for a life of sacrifice and duty, and a glorious reign that history will record for future generations to come. God bless the Queen.
It is an honour to follow the hon. Member for South Dorset (Richard Drax), because it is about 12 years since, in June 2010, I followed his maiden speech in the Chamber with mine. It is also both an honour and a pleasure to take part in this Humble Address debate in honour of our Queen’s 70th jubilee.
My late parents were, like many of their generation, contemporaries of Her Majesty and other members of the royal family. and always had great admiration for them. Just like my parents, I am a proud royalist, and have enjoyed celebrating many royal events since my childhood.
My parents, with several members of the family, were fortunate in getting tickets for seats on The Mall for the coronation in 1953. We still have those tickets; my dear aunt kept them as a memento. I always loved listening to my mother recalling her memories of the day: watching the procession in the rain and—something that always struck me—watching the Queen appearing, a tiny figure waving from the gold state coach.
I have a television story to add to those of the right hon. Member for Newark (Robert Jenrick) and my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman). I knew there was a television in my late husband’s street; indeed, it was his family who had the tiny television. My husband was about six at the time. He said that the house was full of neighbours, and that people were trying to peer through the window to watch the coronation on the tiny set. That shows just how interested people were in such a big event.
The people of North Tyneside have always given the Queen, her late beloved husband the Duke of Edinburgh and all the royal family a great welcome whenever they visit our region. The north-east has great affection and deep respect for Her Majesty, and thousands will join in the jubilee celebrations.
I very much look forward to attending several events in my constituency, starting this weekend when I will join the Wideopen and North Gosforth Community Association at Daverson hall for their early weekend-long jubilee event, although I will not be able to be there all weekend. On 2 June, I will celebrate with the residents association of Yeoman Street in North Shields—the street next to where I was brought up—at their jubilee street party. I will round off the celebrations on 5 June at the Longbenton estate jubilee party in the local community garden. As others have said, fingers crossed for good weather.
On behalf of everyone in the North Tyneside constituency, I thank the Queen for her years of dedication and service to our country and Commonwealth, and congratulate her on her historic platinum jubilee. May God grant her good health for years to come.
It is a pleasure to rise to support this Humble Address to Her Majesty the Queen. In doing so, I am mindful that while all my constituents are important, the Queen, through her Sandringham estate, is undoubtedly the most special. Sandringham in my North West Norfolk constituency has long been held in affection by the royal family, with George V describing it as,
“Dear old Sandringham, the place I love better than anywhere else in the world.”
Having ascended the throne at the age of 21, the Queen has lived her life in the public eye. It is Sandringham that offers her a retreat, and a place for family gatherings, where she can enjoy privacy, relaxation and, of course, her country pursuits. It was at Sandringham where the Duke of Edinburgh, who played an immensely important role in supporting Her Majesty, chose to spend his time when he retired from public life to enjoy the sanctuary it offers. The continuity that Sandringham has provided through four generations means that her Norfolk home occupies a unique place in the Queen’s affections.
Her Majesty’s love of horses has been well remarked in this debate. A racehorse stud was first established at Sandringham by Edward VII. The Queen’s expertise is demonstrated by her success on the turf. Just last weekend, one of her horses, King’s Lynn, was a winner at Haydock Park, and it is expected to run at Royal Ascot next month. If I can offer the House a tip, the bookies are offering odds of 14:1, which is pretty good.
Although Sandringham is foremost a family home, and perhaps known most famously through the Christmas day walk taken by the Queen and the royal family to the church in Sandringham, Her Majesty is much loved by the communities of the close-knit villages around it. She is a very special part of those communities, and they let the royal family and the Queen go about their business largely without fuss. Indeed, it is reported that on one occasion, a local shop assistant said, “You look just like the Queen,” to which the Queen is said to have replied, “How reassuring.”
Her Majesty is a stalwart of that other constant in our nation, the women’s institute, having been a member of the Sandringham branch since 1943. A few years ago, when the branch marked its centenary, it took part in a version of the TV quiz “Pointless”, with the Queen, naturally, leading her team to victory. On that occasion, she said:
“Of course, every generation faces fresh challenges and opportunities. As we look for new answers in the modern age, I for one prefer the tried and tested recipes, like speaking well of each other and respecting different points of view; coming together to seek out the common ground; and never losing sight of the bigger picture.”
Those words capture the essence of Her Majesty the Queen’s dignified approach to leading our nation over the last 70 years.
Across North West Norfolk, the Queen is greatly loved. To celebrate this extraordinary year, we will be holding events. Beacons will be lit; street parties will be held; there will be a musical royal salute involving over 1,000 schoolchildren and adults; new trails will open up areas of the countryside that are special to Her Majesty; and there will be many more events besides. All of them are a very fitting way for my North West Norfolk constituents to honour her continuing remarkable service to our country.
It is an honour and privilege to speak in this Humble Address to Her Majesty.
I echo the words we have heard from right hon. and hon. Members across the House, and wish Her Majesty the very best on the occasion of her platinum jubilee. The warmth and affection towards Her Majesty from Members on all sides, in a place where we often disagree, show how important a figurehead she has been for her country over the last 70 years. There has been incredible change in that time, but one of the few constants throughout has been Her Majesty’s steadfast service, despite the many challenges that she and our country have faced. It is not too fanciful to say that she has become the metaphorical mother of the nation. Her commitment to our country has been truly unwavering, and we all owe her a debt of immense gratitude.
My constituency of Enfield North has a number of celebrations taking place to mark Her Majesty’s platinum jubilee. My diary includes street parties across the Borough of Enfield, a civic reception at the town hall, and parties at Totteridge Road Church and the Nursery on the Green. I am sure all of them will be fantastic events that bring our community together on this very special occasion. I am particularly looking forward to my visit to Bush Hill Park Primary School tomorrow afternoon to join pupils and teachers in their jubilee celebrations. The pupils have been learning about the incredible changes we have seen over Her Majesty’s reign, and will be commemorating the occasion through parades, poetry and song. I am sure the pupils have put a lot of work into their preparation, and that they will make themselves, their teachers and parents, and Her Majesty proud. Events like these show the warmth and respect the people of this country have for Her Majesty. Like all Members, I hope the strong community spirit we are seeing ahead of the celebrations may long continue.
Finally, on behalf of myself and my constituents of Enfield North, I send our very best wishes to Her Majesty as she celebrates her platinum jubilee. Long may she reign over us.
It is a great honour to speak in this tribute debate to Her Majesty the Queen on the occasion of her platinum jubilee. The celebration of Her Majesty’s jubilee will involve many parties and much joy, but it will also be a thank you to Her Majesty. Seventy years ago, she said:
“my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service”.
Indeed it has been; she has served our country with grace, dignity and love.
During her reign, the Queen has met many, many people. A YouGov poll back in 2018 found that around a third of the population had seen or met the Queen in real life. For each one, it is a special and much-treasured moment and memory. The same, of course, is true for me. I was 17 years old, a student at Gordonstoun in Scotland, when Her Majesty came to visit my school. I vividly remember the excitement, and the preparations, which included mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters and re-painting the white lines on the speed bumps, so that everything was perfect for her arrival. I remember the excitement that I, a mere scholarship student, felt at being chosen to sit opposite Her Majesty at lunch. I remember my worry, too. What if they gave us spaghetti bolognese? How would I manage? I need not have worried. The Queen was truly charming and, as many have observed today, she is wonderful at making people feel relaxed and at ease in any circumstances.
My particular memories from that dinner include, first, discussing travel. It was fascinating to hear of the Queen’s many visits to and love for her Commonwealth. It was also interesting to reflect on how her visits to a country differ from those of her subjects. I realised that there are many places that she can go and see that I cannot, but there are also many places that I can go and see that she cannot.
My second memory of the lunch was that, as it came to an end, there was to be a music recital. The Queen moved round to get a better view, coming to sit right next to me. I remember how surreal it felt—it feels surreal to describe it now, actually—to be an ordinary girl from Middlesbrough sitting next to this completely magnificent woman. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman) spoke of how the Queen has a great sense of fun. I remember sitting there lost for words—some may not believe that, but I was—feeling in awe and unsure what to say, when Her Majesty asked, “Would anyone like any more of those fudge squares?” We, on our best behaviour, of course said, “No, thank you,” and she picked the tea plate up, opened her bag and, with a twinkle in her eye, tipped the fudge inside, declaring them as good for the train later. We were not sure whether they were for the corgis, for her or for the grandchildren. Nevertheless, it added some of her gentle humour to proceedings.
Throughout the House, there will be many, many memories to share, as there are across my constituency. Some of my constituents will remember visits that she has undertaken locally, particularly to RAF Cranwell, which is also well known to her son, the Prince of Wales, as he began his armed services career there in March ’71. I have been delighted that a wealth of aircraft have taken to the skies over RAF Cranwell this week to rehearse for the fly-past that is due to take place next week for Her Majesty’s jubilee, with more than 70 aircraft, including the Red Arrows, Spitfires and Hurricanes, set to go on display.
The nation is coming together not just in London, but in every village across our country. Preparations are under way across Sleaford and North Hykeham to celebrate Her Majesty’s 70 years of service. The village of Osbournby—as was the case back at school all those years ago—is ensuring that the place is spick and span before the jubilee celebrations, with a village tidy-up on 29 May to make sure that everything is just lovely. Many villages such as Sudbrook are having street parties and cake competitions. Others have interesting and unusual ways of celebrating the jubilee, such as North Kyme, where there will be a jubilee-themed scarecrow competition. North Kyme will also light one of the 2022 charity beacons that will be lit across the UK for the jubilee weekend.
Metheringham has a competition for the best poem about the Queen and the best decorated crown, and I am sure that Her Majesty would approve of the dog and pet show. North Scarle is producing a quilt, with members of the community each stitching a nine-inch square. I noted that the instructions said, “Our Queen is thrifty. We expect you to upcycle or recycle the materials, not simply buy them”. Each child of primary school age in Potterhanworth will be provided with a truly beautiful medal in a little gift box to celebrate and remember this momentous occasion. Brant Broughton is doing similar with commemorative mugs for all children under the age of 18.
However my constituents remember the jubilee in the next week, the common thread running through all the celebrations will be gratitude to Her Majesty for all that she has done and will do in future, admiration for how she does it and a genuine love for our Queen. I would like to offer thanks to Her Majesty on behalf of all my constituents: thank you, Your Majesty. Congratulations on your platinum jubilee. God save the Queen.
It is a pleasure to speak to this Humble Address on behalf of my constituents. Nobody can deny Her Majesty’s dedication to public service to her country. Seventy years is a lifetime and certainly much longer than most when it comes to their working life. Her Majesty has been on the throne for longer than many of us have been alive. She is an international symbol who instantly springs to mind. When we think of the United Kingdom, the Queen and the royal estate are a huge draw for tourists from around the globe. Even now, at the very grand age of 96, she remains dedicated to her role and to the people.
Her Majesty is, notably, more travelled than any monarch to precede her. In the Commonwealth alone, she has made in excess of 250 visits during her lifetime, from Canada to France to, of course—who could forget?—Rutherglen.
Rutherglen was granted royal burgh status in 1126 by David I of Scotland. Glasgow was not yet the powerhouse that it is in modern times, so Rutherglen, comparatively, was much greater in size. On 25 June 1953, only a couple of weeks after her coronation, the Queen and the late Duke of Edinburgh visited. It had been quite the day: they were coming to Rutherglen following engagements in Glasgow.
Residents of Rutherglen turned out in force to greet the new young monarch. It was a beautifully sunny day, and thousands lined Main Street waiting for a glimpse of Her Majesty. Children were particularly excited to see her: they were taken from their schools to see the visit, and they screamed in delight when her car passed. She remarked to the Provost that she had never seen so many children turn up at a visit. The Provost said that the children had given them
“the kind of reception only children can give.”
Those children will be well into old age now, in their 70s and 80s. Her Majesty took tea in the town hall before signing the visitors’ book, and off she went to Rutherglen station, the royal train and the next destination.
Even more popular with Her Majesty is Blantyre, which is also in my constituency and which she has visited several times. As a small child in 1929, when she was still Princess Elizabeth, she accompanied her mother when she opened the David Livingstone birthplace museum. The museum, which I brought to the attention of the Leader of the House just two weeks ago, is still going strong. It has recently been completely refurbished, and I am sure that Her Majesty would love to visit it again and see what has changed. In 1942, she came again as part of a series of visits designed to boost wartime morale and, in 1962, after she had been crowned, she visited the train station again as she made her way back from a visit to East Kilbride.
This year, celebrations in the constituency will be more modest. Rutherglen West and Wardlawhill parish church will host a street party, following the success of the party that it threw for the diamond jubilee, which made it to BBC News. Rutherglen Community Council has decided to establish a sub-group to launch a more permanent legacy to Her Majesty’s 70-year reign. The community council is pulling together a five-year plan, in which it hopes the local community will be actively involved.
I understand that a few smaller private celebrations will be held around Rutherglen, in the form of lunches and teas hosted by members of the community. I am looking forward to attending a beacon lighting hosted by North Lanarkshire Council and supported by South Lanarkshire Council. The invitation came from Susan, Lady Haughey, the Lord Lieutenant of Lanarkshire. Lady Haughey and other lords lieutenant across the UK are the Queen’s personal representatives in each lieutenancy area; these days it is more of an honorary title presented to persons of note in each area, but historically each lord lieutenant had military responsibilities.
In summary, my constituency has long had royal connections. I admire Her Majesty’s 70-year contribution to public life. That sense of duty and that enduring commitment are worthy of our celebration.
“Short of words” is not a condition that many people associate with me, but I do not mind telling the House that on this occasion I have struggled to put into words how much I and so many people across Rushcliffe admire Her Majesty the Queen and how much the whole country owes her, although colleagues will see that I have got through that.
History is populated by many great figures—great leaders such as George Washington, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher, great scientists such as Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Marie Curie, great authors such as Jane Austen and William Shakespeare—but the measure most often used to define historical eras is the reigns of great individual monarchs or families such as the Tudors and the Stuarts. The reigns of the greatest monarchs name entire eras, such as the Victorian era. What will future historians make of our era? What will they call us? I have a prediction. I believe that we will be a first: for the first time in history, an era will supplant an earlier one and take its name. I refer, of course, to the Elizabethans.
The era that we now call Elizabethan stretched from 1558 to 1603 with the reign of Elizabeth I. She represents a great era, with everything from our discovery of the Americas and the defeat of the Spanish Armada to the invention of the first flush toilet, but I believe that it is fated to be subsumed into the broader Tudor era. Five hundred years from now, when people talk about the Elizabethan era, they will talk about the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II; for her reign is longer, more significant and more transformative. Throughout it—as Mr Speaker himself has said—our country and our world have changed almost beyond recognition.
In eras past, the monarch was a remote, distant and unseen figure. Now, for the first time in history, our Queen has had a direct impact on a huge number of us. As the Leader of the Opposition said, hers is one of the most famous faces in the world—although perhaps not to everyone, everywhere. I recall the famous story of the time Her Majesty drove herself to the Royal Windsor horse show. Greeted by a guard who did not recognise her, she was told, “Sorry love, you can’t come in without a sticker.” The Queen, unfazed, replied, “I think that if you check, I will be allowed in.”
The Queen has transformed the relationship between the royal family and us, her subjects. For decades, she has been a steadying force at the heart of our country, but also a role model to so many. She epitomises duty, public service, and a tireless commitment to this country and to the Commonwealth. For the last 70 years, Her Majesty the Queen has worked on our behalf. Now, at the moment of her platinum jubilee, we come together to congratulate her, to celebrate her and to thank her for everything she has done for us.
It is my privilege to speak today as the Member of Parliament for Rushcliffe, to thank and congratulate Her Majesty and to wish her well on behalf of our community. In Rushcliffe, we have a proud tradition of supporting Her Majesty and welcoming her when she visits. For example, at the time of the silver jubilee in 1977, Her Majesty came to the Trent Bridge cricket ground. She met the England and Australia teams during the Ashes test. We went on to win that Ashes series; here’s hoping that her talismanic properties see us reclaim the Ashes next year. I often visit schools and community groups in my constituency, and I am struck by the awe and respect shown by everyone to our Queen.
Her Majesty has seen political upheaval, personal tragedy, historic moments and great milestones, and she has always done so with a stoic and steely determination. Her personal sacrifice, sense of duty and commitment to public service have inspired many people to serve their local communities. Next week is also volunteers week, a time to celebrate and thank all the volunteers in our communities. In Rushcliffe, that includes the Trent District Community First Responders, Cotgrave Community Kitchen, Sewa Day, Renew 37, our parish councillors, the Friary, Ruddington Village Museum, the Framework Knitters Museum, Tara’s Angels and all those who lead the scouting and guide movements, among many others. It strikes me that the real tribute to Her Majesty is not just the celebrations we will have over the weekend, but the tireless work of the many volunteers at the heart of our communities that epitomises the service and duty she has shown.
Ordnance Survey maps place one of my villages, Dunsop Bridge, at the very centre of the United Kingdom. It is even marked by a special telephone box. On behalf of the people of Ribble Valley, at the very centre of Her Majesty’s kingdom, let me say, “Your Majesty, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
I, like many of you—I listened to those wonderful speeches—will be celebrating over the next four days, attending many events, including the inevitable street party. I really look forward to that, because we will be royally celebrating this historic time in our nation’s history. How exciting is it for all of us to be alive at this time, as history is made? God save the Queen.
Question put and agreed to.
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty to offer the heartfelt good wishes and loyal devotion of the House on the occasion of the Seventieth Anniversary of Her Accession to the Throne, expressing its deep gratitude for Her Majesty’s lifelong unstinting service, leadership and commitment to the United Kingdom, Dependencies and Territories, Her other Realms, and the Commonwealth.