My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for his thoughtful suggestion and for his kind words in the Motion on the humble Address about Her Majesty the Queen’s long and successful—and, I submit, happy and glorious—reign. There are no plans for the Government to advise Her Majesty to change her title, which was set out by proclamation made under the provisions of the Royal Titles Act 1953.
I thank my noble friend the Minister for that Answer, which I was expecting. Does he agree that the unprecedented occasion of a Platinum Jubilee demands marking for future generations and centuries the uniqueness of this reign? Adding “the Faithful” to the Queen’s title, as in “Alfred the Great”, would make her stand out in the sweep of history. This permanent and indisputable marker would acknowledge her constancy and outworked sense of duty. It has a double meaning, as it is directed both to God and to her fellow man. Can my noble friend the Minister suggest a constructive way forward?
My Lords, I agree with every sentiment that my noble friend has expressed about Her Majesty. The position is that the titles are proclaimed by the Accession Council and embraced in the Royal Titles Act. The Platinum Jubilee demonstrated the affection this country has for Her Majesty; it may be left to history to accord titles to past monarchs, but the Government have no plans to make a change.
My Lords, as the Minister mentions history in this context, would he not agree that such additions to the titles of our sovereigns, and indeed sovereigns in other states, have tended to be post hoc rather than during the lifetime of the person in question?
My Lords, that is true, and I think I alluded to that. I believe that the unfortunate title of King Ethelred the Unready, who died in 1016, was brought in only in the 1180s. The fact remains that the characteristic that my noble friend alluded to of the Queen’s sense of duty and commitment to her people, which was set out while she was still Princess Elizabeth, shines forth, as it has done on every day in her reign, and I am sure will shine on long after her passing.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Farmer. I declare my interest as Clerk of the Closet, an office of service to the Crown dating back to the 15th century. At her coronation, the Queen first gave her allegiance to God before anyone came forward to give their allegiance to her. Does the Minister agree that the generous, hospitable and open interpretation by Her Majesty of that duty to people of all faiths and none, over so many years, is not only a foundation stone of our constitution but a reason to feel all the more thankful for the lifelong service Her Majesty has given?
Of course I agree with the right reverend Prelate. It is obviously not the custom of this place to comment on Her Majesty’s opinion or that of any other member of the Royal Family. I think the objective facts we have observed from that time prove that everything the right reverend Prelate has said is true.
My Lords, does the Minister not agree that, in terms of recognition, building a national flagship is not actually what we should be doing? As far as I am aware, there has been no bid from the Royal Family, despite the fact that they loved the old royal yacht—and its removal was a disgrace. Focusing on building this national flagship in advance of some things that are crucial for our defence is not a clever thing to do.
My Lords, does my noble friend agree that as people in the years to come look back on this extraordinary and glorious reign, they are likely to subscribe to it all manner of suitable loving and respectful epithets, and it might perhaps be wrong to single out any one term?
I agree. Is it possible to agree with what both my noble friends said? I believe it is. The Queen’s reign provokes so many positive reflections, and I hope they will last. Her illustrious great-grandfather, King Edward VII, was known as “the Peacemaker” for his efforts to prevent war in Europe. Sadly, four years after his death, the Great War broke out.