House of Lords
Saturday 10 September 2022
Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Oxford.
Arrangement of Business
My Lords, as noble Lords will know, tributes will commence very shortly. Before they do, I would just like to inform your Lordships’ House that the usual channels met this morning and agreed that a very limited number of named people would take the oath now. Oath taking will then resume later, after tributes. I request that the Front Benches be cleared so that the oath taking can take place.
The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith), the Lord Privy Seal (Lord True), Baroness Smith of Basildon, Baroness Williams of Trafford, Lord Kennedy of Southwark, Lord Newby, Lord Stoneham of Droxford, Lord Judge, the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, the Senior Deputy Speaker (Lord Gardiner of Kimble) and the Lord Great Chamberlain (Lord Carrington) took the oath.
Arrangement of Business
My Lords, before we begin, it might be helpful to thank all noble Lords for what I thought were excellent and considered contributions yesterday. I thought that the Lord Privy Seal, together with the Leader of the Opposition, led the way in allowing noble Lords to pay full tribute but do so in a way that enabled other noble Lords to come in in a timely fashion, and I hope that that will continue today.
Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
My Lords, having heard the moving contributions of colleagues yesterday—and I think particularly of the contribution of the Leader of the House, my noble friend Lady Smith of Basildon and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge—my wife Janet and I very much wanted to go down to Buckingham Palace and, like so many others throughout our land, pay a floral tribute to Her late Majesty. The mood and what was said and the make-up of the crowd outside Buckingham Palace said everything that ever needs to be said about Her late Majesty.
There was a sense of loss and emptiness, and of people somehow feeling that something that was stable, certain and ever-present in their lives was no longer there—something that was of value to them. Then there was also a sense of gratitude for a life well-lived, one of service and dedication to duty, and there was a sense of gratitude to her and to her family, for whom we must feel particularly at this time, in their personal loss. We have lost a sovereign; they have lost a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother. But there was also a sense of gratitude for the joyfulness of her reign and for the grace and beauty that she always brought to her duty. As for the make-up of the crowd, it was international—the embodiment of so many nations. I reckon that all the continents of the world were present there, with everyone feeling that she belonged to them. Yes, she was our Queen, but she was actually, genuinely, the Queen of the world.
I thought particularly, in terms of my own life, of Queen and Commonwealth. I was brought up in the Commonwealth. In the course of her long reign, the Queen made two visits to Ghana, in 1961 and 1999. In 1961, I was a little boy in the dust waving a flag on the side of the road; in 1999, I was one of her Ministers. But it is really the 1961 visit to Ghana about which I just want to say a few words. It was a problematic visit in many ways. There were many, including those on all sides in this House, who said that she should not go, that her life would be in danger and that Ghana was not a place that she should go to or be in. She went regardless. She went because the Commonwealth mattered to her, Ghana mattered to her and Britain’s place in the world mattered to her. She knew that not going would be seen as a snub, would undermine the Commonwealth and would be contrary to Britain’s interest.
She displayed that courage, perseverance and determination that was so characteristic of her. It is said—and there is no reason to disbelieve it—that she said to her Prime Minister:
“How silly I should look if I was scared to visit Ghana and then Khrushchev went and had a good reception … I am not a film star. I am the head of the Commonwealth — and I am paid to face any risks that may be involved. Nor do I say this lightly. Do not forget that I have three children.”
That was her courage.
She went, and it was an outstanding success. As it happens, my father was Minister of the Interior and worked with Duncan Sandys, of the other place and of this House, to make sure that it was a success in terms of security, because that was their responsibility. It was a success that she herself had brought about. It was a triumph. That, for me, says it all about her political acuity, her courage and her commitment and dedication to the Commonwealth.
The messages have been flooding in. I am a former chair of the English-Speaking Union and I chair the International Council of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Association. We all have several WhatsApp groups these days, and there have been messages from all over the world of appreciation, respect, gratitude and love. She was loved. She was loved here in this House, in the country and around the world.
We bumped into a small group outside Buckingham Palace on that visit yesterday. They were called Christians in Entertainment and happened to be laying flowers at the same time. They had come out because of Her Majesty’s support for charities in the entertainment world and the Royal Variety shows, which we all remember and which she graced on so many occasions. Suddenly, as they were there and laying flowers, they began to pray. They prayed, and all those around us and them joined in that prayer. It was a prayer of gratitude to our God for our late Queen. God bless our late Majesty, and God save the King, as he becomes Head of the Commonwealth, for which she gave all her life’s service.
My Lords, I cannot describe adequately the sadness which I and my family feel at the passing of Her late Majesty the Queen. It is a great privilege and honour to have been given the task of opening the batting, so to speak, for my party in your Lordships’ tributes today, and to be able to give my personal tribute and that of all of us who are involved in the world of horses, in recognition and celebration of this most special and remarkable lady. I ask that your Lordships indulge me while I recount briefly Her Majesty’s passion for the horse and all matters equine. As the Racing Post recently wrote:
“The realm of the horse has lost its best friend.”
I have conducted a lifelong love affair with the horse. Being involved with horses, especially racehorses, was my principal goal, indeed my constant dream, all through my childhood days and beyond. At the age of 17, I went to work as a student for a great teacher of riders, Bertie Hill, a former three times Olympic three-day event rider who had ridden for Her Majesty. Bertie was based at Great Rapscott in Devon, a stone’s throw from the Castle Hill Estate and my noble friend Lord Arran. The Queen had two very special horses with Bertie—Chicago and Great Ovation—and I helped to look after them. That was my first job with horses.
At the forefront, though, was her love of horseracing. She was incredibly knowledgeable as an owner, a breeder and an expert on form and bloodlines. Indeed, her racing adviser, John Warren, is quoted thus:
“If the Queen wasn’t the Queen, she would have made a wonderful trainer. She has such an affinity with her horses and is so perceptive.”
The Queen’s first winner on the flat was Astrakhan at Hurst Park in 1950. The horse was a wedding present from the Aga Khan. Her best colt was undoubtably Aureole, who very nearly won the Derby for her in 1953.
Over the years, she bred and owned so many top-class racehorses. To name a few: Dunfermline, Highclere, Height of Fashion and, more recently, Estimate, Carlton House, Dartmouth and Tactical. A raft of the very best jockeys had the honour of riding for her: Sir Gordon Richards, Lester Piggott, Willie Carson, Ryan Moore, John Reid and many more. Once asked what it was like to ride for Her Majesty, Willie Carson said, “To put on the royal colours makes one feel six inches taller.” That was a rare feat in Willie’s case. Her trainers were the greats of their profession: Sir Cecil Boyd-Rochfort, Major Dick Hern, Peter Cazalet and, these days, John and Thady Gosden, Sir Michael Stoute, Andrew Balding, Michael Bell, William Haggas and more.
National Hunt racing, which is my particular love, is a beneficiary of her horseracing enthusiasm as well, as the Queen has horses with Nicky Henderson and Charlie Longsdon. In the showing world, her favourite show was the Royal Windsor Horse Show, which, like her beloved Royal Ascot, she never missed. The inaugural Royal Windsor Show was held in 1943 to support the war effort financially. Her late Majesty enjoyed many successes there, among her most recent being Wyevale Harry, Balmoral Leia, Walton Highwayman and the Cleveland bay, Hampton Court Ivory.
The Queen was a highly accomplished horsewoman who learned to ride at the age of four on a Shetland pony called Peggy, a birthday present from her grandfather. She continued to ride to the age of 96. She encouraged and helped so many young riders, and indeed produced a daughter and a granddaughter of world-class ability and achievement. Her late Majesty was patron of many of the best agricultural shows and breed societies throughout the Kingdom, including the Welsh Pony and Cob Society and the Royal Welsh Show. She supported many rare equine breeds and bred top-class highland and fell ponies. One of the last photographs I saw of her was choreographed by her stud groom, Terry Pendry. It had Her Majesty standing between a fell and a highland, holding their halter ropes with the most wonderful of magical, radiant smiles spread across her face. She was with her equine friends, to whom she had given so much throughout her life and who had repaid her with total loyalty.
Her late Majesty was the pinnacle of the horse world, and she has her place in equine history as one of the very greatest stalwarts. Thank you, Ma’am, for all you have done. May you rest in peace. God save the King.
My Lords, it is a privilege to speak today and to add to the tributes we have heard so far the gratitude and respect of the many arts and cultural organisations across the country that benefited from the support and patronage of Her late Majesty the Queen over the 70 years of her reign. As the noble Earl just reminded us, it is easier to picture the Queen and Prince Philip at the races than at the theatre. It is hard to deny that they would likely have felt much more at home in a hippodrome intended for horses than one designed for performance. To my great surprise, I once found myself discussing choreography with the Duke of Edinburgh, but it was in the context of his having agreed to create a dressage display for a charity event. In characteristically colourful language, he shared his frustration at the complexities of combining movement with music, and I secretly enjoyed his grudging realisation that there might be more to this whole dancing business than he had previously imagined.
And yet, her Majesty’s interest in the arts was real and it stretched back across her life. An Arts Council report from 1946 includes a photograph of the Queen attending a concert in Kings Lynn with her mother and paternal grandmother, suggesting, perhaps, that it was they who helped instil her interest in the arts. As Sovereign, she opened and reopened countless galleries, museums and theatres, cutting ribbons and unveiling plaques. She attended no fewer than 35 Royal Variety Performances. The first, in 1953, included the Tiller Girls and Vera Lynn at the Palladium; the last, in 2012, was at the Royal Albert Hall. She was a patron, over many decades, of arts organisations around the country, including orchestras, brass bands and choirs as well as major institutions such as the National, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Opera House, where I had the great privilege to meet her.
Many of those visits were, of course, formal occasions—occasions on which she was obliged to perform her own role and to dress in costumes and jewellery that rivalled those we wore on the stage. She would come backstage to meet the performers after curtain down and, before the days of mobile phones, we would fervently hope that the official photographers would catch the moment of regal handshake and preserve it for posterity. Perhaps she enjoyed those ceremonial visits—she was far too discreet to let on if not—but they were also part of the life of duty about which we have heard so much over recent days. Yet we also know that, away from the formal schedules, she would occasionally attend performances for sheer pleasure, making unofficial visits to “Billy Elliot” to celebrate her 80th birthday in 2006, and to “War Horse” in 2009. I recall one such private visit to the Royal Ballet, when Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret, the company’s long-standing president, decided she liked one ballet so much that she would come back to see it again, and this time, she would bring her sister too.
So, while her love of the arts may have been lower profile than her passion for horses, her support was steadfast and enduring, and the fact that it was passed on through the generations of her family is another of her many legacies. His Majesty the King is an extraordinary supporter of the arts, across music, dance, visual arts and theatre, and has been patron of some 400 organisations. He is particularly committed to opening up opportunities for young people, encouraging them to fulfil their individual creative potential through participating in art.
Over history, monarchs have always inspired artistic creations, and our late Queen was no exception. Her Coronation included a new composition from William Walton, “Orb and Sceptre”, played alongside a march he had composed for her father’s Coronation. It inspired Benjamin Britten’s opera, “Gloriana”, and a new ballet from Sir Frederick Ashton, “Homage to the Queen”, a ballet I had the opportunity to dance some 40 years later. Surely, no sovereign before her inspired such a diverse range of fictional representations in theatre, on stage, on screen and in literature. Perhaps this is as good a measure as any of the changing times over which she reigned. When she ascended the Throne, the Lord Chamberlain still had the power to refuse a licence to a play that might offend, a power that would remain in place until 1968. While one sometimes has occasion to wonder what the 1950s censor might have made of all this, the creative and sometimes whimsical imaginations of writers from Sue Townsend to Peter Morgan and Alan Bennett have given us a different kind of legacy for an exceptional life exceptionally lived. And as other noble Lords have recalled, Her Majesty had her own sense of performance, deployed to memorable effect at the London 2012 Olympics and, more recently, in that unforgettable and heart-warming two-hander with a virtual bear.
Over the coming days, some theatres and arts venues may close their doors, observe moments of silence or dim their lights. They will do so as a mark of gratitude and respect not just for someone whose patronage was so valued, but whose dedication to duty was the living embodiment of that well-known theatrical adage, “the show must go on”. To some, that may sound too trite for such a solemn occasion, but it is a phrase that came to my mind this week as we witnessed Her Majesty summon the strength, even in the fading moments of her life, to carry out her last constitutional duty: a defining moment of both continuity and change that was echoed today as the Council of Accession met and the proclamation of the new King rang out. The curtain falls; the curtain rises. Thank you, Ma’am, and to King Charles III, we wish every success.
My Lords, like most Bishops from these Benches, I have stories to tell; stories of doing jigsaws in Sandringham on Sunday evenings and of barbeques in the woods at Sandringham in the middle of January—I even have a slightly scurrilous story about healing the Queen’s car. Perhaps I will tell it.
I had preached in Sandringham parish church. We were standing outside and the Bentley was there to get the Queen. It did not start. It made that throaty noise cars make in the middle of winter when they will not start, and everybody stood there doing nothing. I was expecting a policeman to intervene, but nothing happened. Enjoying the theatre of the moment, I stepped forward and made a large sign of the cross over the Queen’s car, to the enjoyment of the crowd—there were hundreds of people there, as it was the Queen. I saw the Queen out of the corner of my eye looking rather stony-faced, and thought I had perhaps overstepped the mark. The driver tried the car again and, praise the Lord, it started. The Queen got in and went back to Sandringham, and I followed in another car. When I arrived, as I came into lunch, the Queen said with a beaming smile, “It’s the Bishop—he healed my car”. Two years later, when I greeted her at the west front of Chelmsford Cathedral, just as a very grand service was about to start and we were all dressed up to the nines, she took me to one side and said, “Bishop, nice to see you again; I think the car’s all right today, but if I have any problems I’ll know where to come.”
When I became the 98th Archbishop of York, during Covid, I paid homage to the Queen by Zoom conference. I was in the Cabinet Office; everyone had forgotten to bring a Bible, including me, but there was one there—which is kind of reassuring. Just as the ceremony was about to begin, the fire alarm went off. The Queen was at Windsor Castle, but we all trooped out of the Cabinet Office, on to the road, and were out there for about 20 minutes until they could check that it was a false alarm and we could go back in. When I went back into the room, there was the screen, with Her late Majesty waiting for things to begin again. I do not know why I find myself returning to that image of her, faithful watching and waiting through those very difficult times. That was a very small part of a life of astonishing service.
The other thing I have noticed in the last couple of days is that we are all telling our stories. Yesterday, I found myself sharing stories with somebody in the street. I at least had had the honour of meeting Her late Majesty; this person had never met her, but we were sharing stories. I said, “Isn’t it strange how we need to tell our stories? It’s not as if she was a member of our family.” Except she was. That is the point. She served the household of a nation. For her, it was not a rule but an act of service, to this people and to all of us.
I remind us, again and again, that that came from somewhere: it came from her profound faith in the one who said,
“I am among you as one who serves.”
The hallmark of leadership is service, watchfulness and waiting. It was her lived-in faith in Jesus Christ, day in and day out, which sustained, motivated and equipped her for that lifetime of service. How inspiring it was last night and this morning to see the baton pass to our new King, King Charles, in the same spirit of godly service to the people of a nation.
Her Majesty the Queen died on 8 September, the day on which the blessed Virgin Mary is remembered across the world and the Church. Another Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary, said of her when she knew she would be the mother of the Lord:
“Blessed is she who believed that the promises made to her would be fulfilled”.
Shot through all our tributes in this House and another place, and across our nation, is that which we have seen, especially as it was only on Tuesday—I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, for reminding us—that the Queen received a new Prime Minister. Can it really be possible? She served to the end—a life fulfilled.
I will finish with a handful of her words. This is what the Queen wrote in a book to mark her 90th birthday, reflecting on her faith in Jesus Christ in her life:
“I have indeed seen His faithfulness.”
I am not supposed to call noble Lords “brothers and sisters”, but dear friends, we have seen her faithfulness too, and we see it now in our new King. May Her late Majesty the Queen rest in peace and rise in glory. God save the King.
My Lords, I rise with no sense of provocation in following the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York, but, when our new King spoke to the country last night, he mentioned a number of new responsibilities for the Prince of Wales and for his wife. He too had taken on a new responsibility from his mother—the Duke of Lancaster. I wear the tie today of the Association of Lancastrians in London because Her Majesty the Queen, throughout her long life, was our patron. Many noble Lords will have been at dinners where the toast was to the Queen, and heard someone in the audience say, “the Duke of Lancaster”. That responsibility as Duke of Lancaster is where I begin my remarks.
In the 1960s and 1970s, I had the honour and pleasure of working for two Prime Ministers, Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan. Both affirmed what has been said by all the living former Prime Ministers: what a comfort, guidance and help it was to them in doing their job to have the opportunity of an audience with the Queen, with no leaks, briefings or anything else—just the benefit of her wisdom.
The nearest I got to finding out anything about it was when I accompanied Jim Callaghan to visit President Mobutu in what was then Zaire. In advance of our visit, Jim told me that, when Mobutu had come on a state visit to London, he was put up at Buckingham Palace. It was only after he had arrived, and his suite was ensconced there, that they found he had brought a dog with him, which had come through without quarantine for rabies. Jim said that, quite often when meeting the Queen, she would refer to “That dreadful man who nearly gave the corgis rabies”. I wondered how this would be handled when we met President Mobutu. Sure enough, when Jim and the President met, he said, “And how is Her Majesty?” “Very well, Mr President”, said Jim, “She speaks of you often”.
The other memory, which again ties in with the Queen’s interests, is going to a Privy Council meeting at Windsor, after which she kindly invited the three privy counsellors present for lunch. Before lunch she invited us into her study. Two things stuck in my memory. One was that on her desk was a photograph of her sister, Princess Margaret. The other, as has been referred to, was the BAFTA that she won for her performance at the opening of the Olympics. That epitomises two of her strong personal virtues: her commitment to family, and a sense of humour that did not take all of majesty entirely seriously.
I have one final reflection. I was alone in my office on Thursday evening, with the television on, when Huw Edwards suddenly interrupted what he was saying and said, “It’s just been announced that the Queen is dead.” I was shocked at how sad I was. I have worked around Whitehall and Westminster for over 50 years, and you become fairly hard-boiled to the passing of various personalities around this village. However, I really felt a sadness—I thought, “You’re getting soft, McNally”—but I found over the next 24 or 48 hours that that emotion, that initial feeling that she is gone and feeling sad about it was shared by millions of people in this country and around the world. In a way, that is the biggest tribute to a life of service that any words can convey. It was that we will miss her and that service, that dedication and that example but, in so doing, we know that she has worked so hard to pass that baton on to our new King, so that we can with confidence say, “God save the King.”
My Lords, I was not intending to contribute to the tributes today until last night, when I realised that we are weaving a tapestry that all our memories, recollections and stories can be part of and which other generations can read in years to come, learning from the mistakes as well as the lessons that our generation can contribute in the light of the Queen’s amazing reign. I was her fifth Archbishop of Canterbury. We have had 15 Prime Ministers, but we archbishops seem to endure a little longer than our political colleagues. Long may that endure. However, that means that if you are an archbishop or a bishop, you have very close relationships with the Royal Family.
I see it as like a hive in which there are lots of parts. Obviously there is Westminster, Sandringham, Windsor and the clergy, which together form a generous establishment. That generosity came out in the most reverend Primate the Archbishop’s speech yesterday when he referred to the umbrella. During the Queen’s time she gave access to that. She made us all feel very welcome. This is no longer the Church of England dominating. We have a Catholic presence in this country that is strong and vigorous, and we saw the impressive contribution that our present King Charles has made to Muslim-Christian secular dialogue.
In my decades I had no royal wedding, sadly, and I even missed two baptisms because I was abroad. However, I had more than my fair share of funerals, such as that of Princess Margaret, who became a very dear friend. I anointed her on her deathbed, and my wife Eileen, who is here, was with me on that occasion. I spent a lot of time with the Queen Mother and learned a lot from that very loving and distinguished lady, who died at the age of 101, and I was able and privileged to preach at her funeral service.
Princess Diana’s death moved me in a very sad way. I saw through her something of the value of a verse in Jeremiah 1 about the role of politics to destroy at times but then to build up. I have to say—I have discussed this with Her Majesty and members of the Royal Family—that I saw Her Majesty’s strong faith and fortitude as she resisted all the destructive power that could have destroyed the Royal Family but which did not because of her strength of character. However, I also saw something that is important for our own time as we now support King Charles III, which is to do with the fourth estate: the power of the press to destroy as well as to build up. I hope that we as part of Parliament can make our contribution to building up, strengthening and getting behind our King, as well as giving thanks to a remarkable woman, but also to say to the press today, “It’s your job also to join us in building up so that we can pass on the real lessons of what it is to be a land that is focused on building up the young and the strong today.” We give thanks to Her Majesty and we pray for King Charles III.
My Lords, ordinarily on such occasions the repetition of words and sentiments can be tedious and unproductive. Too often we hear, “Everything’s been said, but not yet by everyone”, or the House of Lords equivalent, which is, “Everything’s been said, but not yet by me.” However, in the last 48 hours the repetition of such words as duty, service, honour, decency, commitment and dedication does not jar at all; it seems both appropriate and fitting when they apply to the 70 year-long reign of the late Queen Elizabeth. She set a standard and a vector against which all who serve in public life can and indeed should be measured, and we should be profoundly grateful for that example, as well as for so many other things. Indeed, she was the gold standard—the glue that kept a fractious country together when multiple pressures of populism and extremism were tearing, but never destroying, our communal fabric. With our latest Prime Minister and the nation facing serious crises in energy, the cost of living, health and a foreign war, her example of cool, clear thinking is more necessary than ever it was.
As these two days of debate have shown, we all have memories of Her Majesty the Queen, especially those of us who had the opportunity to meet her. My latest one was of returning last year the insignia of the Chancellor of the Order of St Michael and St George by Zoom. I have to say that she was a lot more comfortable with the situation then I was. “Come forward”, she demanded, “I can’t see you”, as I nervously walked towards the screen at the end of the long room.
However, I have another vivid memory, of her visit in 1996 with the Princess Royal to Dunblane after the ghastly murders in the primary school. The noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, was the Scottish Secretary at the time and the local MP. I was his shadow and both a local resident and a parent. We were, at that time anyway, tough political adversaries, but we had been welded together by the tragedy in that small community. We witnessed that day the monarch, with just her presence and simple words, speak to and for a grieving town and indeed a shell-shocked nation. It helped immeasurably to bind some of the gaping wounds of that time, and that was her powerful effect.
Another, more pleasant memory I have is of when, as Defence Secretary, I brought the then Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed, to Balmoral to meet the Queen. After our lunch, he accepted an offer from her to see the estate but, boy, was he astounded, coming from a country which banned women from driving, to find the Queen behind the wheel of the Land Rover and rolling off without the rest of the party. I was at the castle entrance when they all came back. She looked at me and said, “I think he thought I was driving too fast.” I said nothing at all. Then she said, “I also think he thought I was lost.” I bravely said, “Well, you can’t get lost. You’re the Queen, and where you are is where you’re supposed to be.” She frowned at me and then said emphatically, “Quite right”, and marched away. Soon after that, the Crown Prince became King of Saudi Arabia, and belaboured every visiting Brit with stories of the Queen’s mad driving.
My final point is to talk about the Queen’s deep loyalty to the Commonwealth; my noble friend Lord Boateng also mentioned that. When she made that famous pledge to preserve and protect the Commonwealth at the point when she took the Throne, it was not some nominal pledge or promise, it was to her a sacred commitment. That passionate commitment to the unique and precious club of like-thinking nations that is the Commonwealth was to matter to her over all her years, especially those years when not a few irritated politicians would quite happily have strangled the organisation. Getting past the Queen, dispassionate and non-partisan as she might well have been, would have required a lot more tenacity and political force than is possessed by any mere politician yet to be born. The Commonwealth survives and thrives because of Her Majesty and her promise.
Last night, as so many have said, the new King spoke to the nation with raw personal feeling about the loss caused by the Queen’s death and what it meant to the Royal Family. It was a moving and incredibly significant address. The fact is, however, that we are all her family, and he spoke for us in our loss as well. He becomes King at a momentous time and we must, with memories of his mother fresh in our minds, wish him the very best in his demanding new role. The family that is his nation is with him.
My Lords, having read and listened to the many and various tributes to our beloved Queen and her exemplary life and selfless service to this country, the Commonwealth and the realms, it is impossible to do her justice. I should like, with humility, to pay a small tribute to her private family life. As any working parent knows, striking the work/life balance is almost impossible, but despite performing the most demanding job in the whole world for seven decades as a working mother, a working grandmother and a working great-grandmother, she juggled until the day she died. I am in no doubt that her family and the line of succession was of paramount importance to her.
I should like to share three vignettes of her humanity. This is the first. My brothers, three years younger than me, attended the same gym class as Prince Andrew and, as a consequence, were invited to Buckingham Palace to his birthday parties. On returning home, my mother, cross-examining the boys, said, “What was Andrew’s mummy like?”, to which one of them responded, “Mummy, she was just like any other mummy”, and then, referring to her brooch, “but she wears a much bigger badge.”
Secondly, sitting next to one of her nephews at a dinner, he told me that during his parents’ separation and divorce, the Queen and her family had been like a port in a storm when life had been very difficult for them. This sentiment was echoed by many of her grandchildren, who, over the Jubilee, spoke movingly of her extreme kindness to them.
Thirdly and lastly, I had the privilege on two occasions to meet the Queen on my own, save for the presence of a private secretary. The meetings concerned family matters, and I was left in absolutely no doubt that she loved and cared passionately about all concerned. She was totally fair and non-judgmental, and did all in her power to ameliorate and solve the very difficult problems they were suffering from. She was loyal to her family to the end, and I can think of no better way of showing our immense gratitude to her than supporting her children, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren at this sad time and in future.
She passed the baton on, and for her, there was no question of changing any rules mid-term. To make sense of her sacrifices and her passing, and to reward her unstinting service to all of us, we can do no better than to wholeheartedly support our monarch, His Majesty King Charles III, and his family, as she would have wished and prayed for.
My Lords, I share with this House, our country and many across the world the profound sadness at the death of the late Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. In June this year, we gathered at St Paul’s Cathedral for the national service to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee. In that service, words were read from the letter to the Philippians:
“Let your gentleness be known to everyone”.
The writer goes on to say that
“whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things … and the God of peace will be with you.”
We have heard from many that Her Majesty the Queen, in the 70 years of her reign, lived a life of integrity and service to others, but she also lived a life as a model of gentleness. In Her Majesty, we found someone who carried lightly her own importance, a genuine humility and gentleness, while fully knowing what her role in the Church and the state was. We have heard from my most reverend friend the Archbishop about how, as Bishops, we pay homage. As the Bishop of London, I paid it not virtually but in person. There, kneeling, with your hands enfolded by Her Majesty the Queen’s hands, you pray. My memory of that occasion was of gentleness: not of the power of state or of her role, but of gentleness. That is the image and feeling that remains with me. Having prayed with the Queen, I often reflected that there was no need for an oath of obedience.
Many of us simply have not known life without Her Majesty the Queen. She has been our nation’s unerring heartbeat. I give thanks that she is now with the God of all peace. My prayers are with the Royal Family and His Majesty King Charles. God save the King.
My Lords, both today and yesterday, many noble Lords have spoken about how Queen Elizabeth embodied the values and identity of our country. However, she also embodied an international mindset and global understanding, which focused, of course, on the Commonwealth to which she was so devoted but went much further still than that.
One example of this was Her Majesty’s understanding of the importance and significance of being able to communicate in languages other than English, which often reflected so positively on the reputation of Her Majesty and the admiration in which she was held, as well as on the reputation and role of the United Kingdom. In 2014, she addressed a French state banquet in French, a language in which she was fluent.
Perhaps the most unexpected yet hugely significant example came in 2011, when Her Majesty was the first British monarch to visit Ireland in 100 years. At the state dinner in Dublin Castle, she began her speech to her hosts in Irish Gaelic, astonishing the assembled audience, from President Mary McAleese down, into spontaneous applause. At the time, commentators and politicians remarked on the incredibly astute judgment and sensitivity shown by the Queen in this gesture; it was said to contribute enormously to the future of relationships all round.
Other noble Lords have referred to Her Majesty’s consummate skill in diplomacy and soft power. Her ability to use foreign languages so judiciously was a classic example of this, for which we should all be grateful and endeavour to emulate.
My Lords, it is a truism of politics generally—and, no doubt, of your Lordships’ House—that it is easier to make a long speech than a short one. In respect of Her late Majesty, all of us could speak at length with enthusiasm, passion and not a little sadness about our experiences of her, both closely and at a distance. I will restrict myself to two comments about not the personal relationship with her but what she achieved and represented. One is about international relations, which are an important matter for me. The other is about the Irish peace process, to which the noble Baroness, Lady Coussins, just referred.
When Her Majesty came to the Throne, after two World Wars, there was a huge focus on creating an international rules-based order. There was a particular focus on the United Nations. For a long time, that was and continued to be an inspiring hope—perhaps until relatively recent times—because the United Nations Security Council is and was to be the pinnacle of international law. Now we find that two of its permanent members are, by any account, guilty of crimes against humanity. Were that to be the case of any of the members of our Supreme Court, we would lose faith in that jurisdiction.
Others of Her Majesty’s Ministers focused a great deal on getting us into the European project or, more latterly, getting us out of it. But she had a different focus during all those years. She was supportive of what her Governments were doing, of course, but it was the Commonwealth that was her particular passion, as the noble Lords, Lord Boateng and Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, and the noble Baroness, Lady Coussins, rightly said. It is my conviction that, had it not been for her passionate commitment and that of the rest of the Royal Family, we probably would not have a Commonwealth today. Instead, we have an important network of relationships that some countries that were not even members of the British Empire have applied to join.
Yesterday, I got off a plane to hear of Her Majesty’s death after a visit to Singapore at the invitation of the Singaporean Government. I have often found myself being critical of them. It seemed to me that they were not living up to some of the principles I felt were important. I came back, however, with a different set of feelings. They understand China in a way that we do not. They have a fellow feeling with India that we cannot have. They understand Asia and the West. If we are not to fall into a terrible war with China and others in the East, we desperately need that depth of understanding. It is an understanding that Her late Majesty the Queen had very deeply.
I speak of the Irish peace process. In her Golden Jubilee year, 2002, Her Majesty visited not just the Parliament here but the Senedd in Wales and the Parliament in Scotland. I was advised by the Northern Ireland Office, however, that she would not be visiting the Northern Ireland Assembly of which I was Speaker because the Northern Ireland Office felt that it would cause difficulties. I said, “I see. You’re wanting to create a constitutional crisis.” “Oh no,” they said, “We’re trying to avoid trouble.” I said, “Well, how do you think unionists will respond if Her Majesty can go to every other Parliament but not to Stormont?” They said, “But it won’t go well.” I replied, “Just back off for a little while and give me a chance to talk to those involved.”
I talked to Dr Paisley, who was very wroth because he was convinced that it would not be possible. I talked to others. Eventually, I talked to Alex Maskey, the then Chief Whip of Sinn Féin. I said, “Alex, you know, I want to be able to invite the Irish President here but I cannot invite her if Her Majesty cannot come.” “Ah,” he said, “We’ll have a chat about it.” So the ard chomhairle of Sinn Féin got together. You can imagine them speaking in Dublin about Her Majesty’s visit to Belfast. They came back to me, and the answer was clear: “We will deal with it with a dignified detachment. We won’t be able to be there but we won’t create trouble.”
On the morning of Her Majesty’s visit, Gerry Kelly was interviewed on the BBC. My first response was a sinking heart. What would Gerry say? He was asked whether he would meet her. He said, “Well, if she’s going to hand the place over, I’d be very happy to meet with her, but I don’t expect that’s what she’s coming for. So we will deal with it with a dignified detachment.” Of course, that is what happened; they dealt with it appropriately.
We went on to have the remarkable visit to Dublin and the meeting with Mary McAleese. Then, in 2012, we had the visit to Belfast where Her Majesty shook hands with Martin McGuinness. In 2002, it was dignified detachment. In 2012, it was dignified engagement. None of that would have happened had she not, by her whole life, person and example, demonstrated dignity in relations and respect for and mutual recognition of those with whom she and her country disagreed. She was a remarkable person. She has given those of us in my part of the United Kingdom a remarkable legacy, but we are fortunate because King Charles III is also part of her legacy. God save the King.
My Lords, it has never been a greater privilege to be a part of this House and listen to some extraordinary speeches; they will last as long as this House does, I think. With humility, I want to share some of my own experiences.
Last night, when we heard that extraordinarily magisterial and immensely moving speech from the new King, King Charles III, he made us remember some different aspects of our late Queen. He spoke of
“a promise of destiny kept”
and renewed that same promise of lifelong service. Of course, one of those promises that the Queen made was the one she made to the people of Aberfan, after the disaster in 1966 when 116 children and 28 adults died, that she would return. It was one of the defining moments of her reign and was not without controversy. For those of us who come from those valleys, it marked an extraordinary relationship. At that terrible time, the people of Aberfan were immensely and uniquely comforted by her. She was deeply affected; she sat quietly with them, sometimes quite silently.
One of the bereaved families said, “She was with us from the beginning”, and she more than kept her promise to return. She went back four times, once to open the new school. She understood and paid tribute to the dignity and the indomitable spirit that characterises the people of that village and the surrounding valleys, and that rare gift exemplified so much of what made her so special to everyone she met. She understood grief. She had been brought up never to show her emotions, but she knew what people felt, and people knew that she knew. She knew that silence is more eloquent than words and she taught us that there is a unique value in silence.
She also had a terrific zest for life. I experienced that because I am a member of the trade union of previous Baronesses in Waiting. She treated us with enormous respect and helped us understand the role. The humility in being present to greet a distinguished overseas Head of State who is expecting to meet the Queen and finds himself instead meeting an overenthusiastic and completely unknown Baroness is something you never quite forget. It teaches you a life lesson about expectations.
Her Majesty honoured her promises and the sweep of history in so many other ways. One of the charities with which she had the longest association was the Charterhouse, the great medieval charity in the City so well known to Members of this House—there are many of its previous governors in this House. The Charterhouse has stood for 400 years as a symbol of philanthropy, one of the four buildings in London that Elizabeth I would recognise. There have been royal governors for 400 years. Elizabeth I made her base there after the death of Mary. For 400 years, Thomas Sutton’s will has been honoured in the community of elderly men and women who live out their final days there. I am privileged to be a governor and to have that duty of care now.
The late Queen’s first visit was in 1958, after the restoration following the Blitz. Her final visit, some 60 years later in 2017, was to open our new museum, which revealed the Charterhouse in its full 700-year history. Like every governor, she would have had three brothers in her care. She caused some confusion occasionally by referring to them. Yesterday, our brothers honoured her and the love they feel for her when they tolled the Charterhouse bell 96 times for their royal governor, who joined hands over the centuries with that other great Elizabeth, 400 years ago. I have an image of those two Elizabeths sitting in the great chamber at the Charterhouse, conspiring together about how to get the best from their councillors.
She also honoured her people in other ways. During her 60th Jubilee, in 2012, the first excursion that she made was to Burnley, on a freezing day. She travelled up the canal on the “Pride of Sefton”, with Prince Philip and the then Prince Charles, to see the transformation of Burnley mill into a new centre of technical education. It was one of many such projects to which our present King was committed for so long and with such success, and it enabled us at the Prince’s Regeneration Trust and English Heritage to bring back to life and to repurpose significant historic buildings which could bring new life to communities such as Burnley. The mill was put to work again, for another generation to learn how to master the future.
That day, in that mill, on the threshold of its new life, the Queen spoke of her immense pride in all that her son had achieved, not just in the restoration of our physical heritage but in empowering so many young people, through the Prince’s Trust, to find the confidence and success to make their own place in history.
It is no wonder that we have all felt so completely overwhelmed by hearing the accounts of people we have met, or those people I saw at Victoria Station this morning armed with bunches of flowers and on their way to Buckingham Palace. We are unmoored by the death of a Queen for whom duty was her signature on a page of history, as well as her love. We now have a new King who shares her values and who will, as he said last night, bring loyalty and love, warmth and empathy in connection. We are extremely lucky to have lived in her reign, and we will be lucky to live in his.
God save the King.
My Lords, it is always a great pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews. When she was talking of her role as a receiver of distinguished foreign visitors, I immediately thought of one of the most unforgettable Members of your Lordships’ House who often did a similar job and told hilarious stories about the encounters that she had. That was, of course, Baroness Trumpington, of whom we all have such affectionate memories.
It has been an extraordinary period since Thursday lunchtime, when that difficult news came through. We all knew from the first moment that we had to expect the worst. I must say that I felt a great privilege in being a Member of your Lordships’ House yesterday. There were some very moving and splendid speeches, as there have been today. I have never, in my nearly 12 years in your Lordships’ House, nor in my 52 years in Parliament, heard better Front-Bench speeches than I heard yesterday in this House. However, the most moving moment for me was when we assembled informally in your Lordships’ Chamber to listen to the first words of our new King, who spoke with a quiet, moving dignity, suffused with deep affection for a wonderful mother.
Not being privileged to be a member of the Privy Council, I had to watch this morning’s Proclamation on television, as did most of us. The King spoke again and he used a few words that I want to dwell on for a moment:
“Even as we grieve, we give thanks.”
That is very important indeed. We are mourning the departure of a Christian monarch who believed in the afterlife. We are mourning the departure of one of the most remarkable women who ever lived, but who died in really wonderful circumstances, in the place that she loved, surrounded by people whom she loved, having just accomplished constitutional duties with panache and good humour, in instituting her last Prime Minister.
We have a lot to be thankful for. Having such a respectable bevvy of Bishops on the Benches, I appeal to them. Of course, what happens in 10 days’ time will be a great state funeral, but can it not also be designated on the service sheet as a service of thanksgiving, since that is what we will be doing? We will be not just mourning but giving thanks for someone who has done her duty better than anyone I can think of.
We have been talking of personal memories. I cannot pretend that I knew Her Majesty, but I had the very great good fortune to meet her on a number of occasions. Two stick in my memory. The first was in 2002. I was the treasurer of the CPA, the senior Opposition position in the CPA. We decided that we would have a conference of Commonwealth parliamentarians. We had an immediate affirmative answer from the Palace that Her Majesty and Prince Philip would be delighted to come, and they came. We met in Lancaster House.
I had two duties. One was to take round Prince Philip while the chairman took round the Queen. Then we all four gathered. I had the job of making a presentation to Her Majesty of a wonderful paper knife, crafted by perhaps our finest female silversmith. The knife had the mace at the end of it. She wielded it and said, “By Jove, that’s got a very good feeling.” Before the end of the day, I had a letter from her office saying that she was already using it and much enjoying it.
We were talking to her about the Commonwealth. As has been mentioned many times—particularly movingly today by the noble Lords, Lord Robertson and Lord Boateng—in a sense she lived for the Commonwealth. From going round with the two of them and talking to Commonwealth parliamentarians, I saw that there was not a country that they had not been to. They knew the intimate history of many of the people who were there and they both manifested a love for this greatest of international organisations.
My other memory is a very personal one. On 20 April 2010, I was at a farewell party at Windsor Castle for the Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures. The Queen was there, mingling with us. Of course, the next day she was due to be 84. I said what I thought were some appropriate words and also said, “My grandson is six tomorrow and is very thrilled that he shares your birthday.” “Please give him my warmest wishes”, she said. Edward thought this was an extraordinary leg-pull when I rang him up and told him, but it was just typical of her ability to relate not only to significant Commonwealth parliamentarians but to a little boy whom she certainly never met. She cared about her family, as has been said so often.
How do we best thank her and how do we best encourage our new King? We do it, as was touched on last night in a very interesting and powerful speech by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Worcester, by trying to demonstrate the sort of unity for which she always stood. We have a particular responsibility in your Lordships’ House, where party politics is not as acerbic as it is in the other place. She was a person who brought others together. It is clearly the manifest desire of our new King to do the same. We must play our part in doing that.
I end on a note that I never thought I would end on this year, in emphatic agreement with Boris Johnson. He said, in some very remarkable words the other day, that he thought she should go down in history as Elizabeth the Great. I endorse that and I hope that, in due course, that will come to pass. God save the King.
My Lords, I was three years old when, in a little village in Uganda called Masooli, we all gathered round a very small transistor radio and listened to the broadcast from the abbey of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth. From then on in every school in Uganda on Empire Day we sang “God save the Queen”. We continue to do it; some still do it now. I stand here as somebody who is quite surprised that this little boy out in Uganda would today be part of the Accession Council and the confirmation of King Charles III. I have mixed emotions.
I want first to echo the words of the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York, because on Thursday, as soon as we heard the news that Her Majesty had died, I put on Twitter this message:
“Today Churches Celebrate the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on this day is a great shock & Mary’s Magnificat should be our response: MY SOUL DOTH MAGNIFY THE LORD: & MY SPIRIT HATH REJOICED IN GOD MY SAVIOUR; REGARDED & MAGNIFIED HER”.
I have stood, on a number of occasions, near Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth as she sang the Magnificat. She did not need the words; she knew them. In a real sense, that was her song too. She sang it from the heart because it expressed who she was. Her true greatness was her deep humility in knowing that the Lord in many ways “regarded” her “lowliness” and, by divine providence, made her Queen. For her, being Queen was an act of nobody but God.
Humbleness was, for her, born out of having Jesus Christ at the centre of her living, her thinking and all her goals, her rejoicing and even in moments of sadness. She knew the holy scriptures well and sang many hymns without needing to look at the words. She really imbibed the whole tradition. Therefore, it was also comforting to hear our new King say the same thing about the services that shaped him.
When in her presence, you were the person who mattered when you spoke to her. She never looked around. It was as if you were the only person in the room, and until that conversation ended her eyes were fixed on you and your smile.
Forgive this testimony. I had an audience with her to ask for her permission to step down from my role after an extra year. Her response was, “The decision is yours and yours alone—not me, not anyone else. Give me the date and so it shall be.” I took that to be a command. There was a matter that was causing me great heartache. I told her, and I asked for her prayers. I knelt down and put my hands together. She put hers outside mine. There was this deep moment of silence. I think it lasted about two to three minutes. It was ended by Her Majesty saying, “Amen.” I got up and, friends, whatever burdens I had come with were lifted. It was as if I was with my grandmother, who had a similar effect on me. If you want to know more, you have to wait until my autobiography is published next year. You will get a bit more story because permission has been given to me to write some of those words down.
Her hospitality was amazing. I stayed at Sandringham and at Windsor. I will tell your Lordships a bit about Windsor. At Windsor on her birthday, after dinner she and Prince Philip guided us to the library. They had already arranged with the archivist the section on Uganda. The books were opened and copies were made so that we could take some of this material with us. The thing that most surprised me was to see writing dictated by King Muteesa I requesting Queen Victoria to send missionaries to Uganda, and subsequently a request that Uganda became a protectorate. Those documents are there. I was speechless, really. We ended up in the restored chapel at Windsor. Again, there were silent prayers. I cannot remember how long.
The death of Queen Elizabeth has left all of us with mixed emotions. I want to end with the experience of our eight year-old granddaughter, Abigail. When she saw the news that the Queen had died she cried, uncontrollably and inconsolably. When she calmed down, she said, “I will never see a queen in my lifetime”. She then said, “Long live the King”. Queen Elizabeth rests in glory. Long live King Charles III.
My Lords, it is a real privilege to take part in this debate and to follow the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Sentamu, and his inspiring words, and also the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, not least because I so strongly share his feelings about the first couple of short speeches by King Charles and the sentiments that they involved.
I do not think it would be to any purpose to repeat the many things that have been said about Her late Majesty’s graciousness, kindness and ability to respond to people in such a personal way—a pleasure which I enjoyed on a number of occasions. Those things have been said. It may well be that what we should remember are her comments when she described her first speeches as having been “green” but that none the less she was delighted to have made the commitments that she made and to have seen them through. I sometimes think that the best one can expect of one’s children is that after their long experience, we hope, of you as a parent they will say that they thought you a good parent and that you have contributed in a significant way to their lives. That is certainly the way I think with affection and humility about the late Queen.
A number of us have inevitably reached for anecdotes because they are not just expressions of the good luck and good chance of having met Her Majesty—in my case, a number of times—but illustrate things about her which, if you had not gone through those experiences, you would not necessarily know. When I first went as a Lord in Waiting, I had the great good luck of her inviting me to have lunch, and we sat, just the two of us, at a small table. She said, “I always have a light lunch”—I think I am allowed to say something about what she said—“I have ordered a ham salad but I thought you would not want a ham salad, so I have ordered a smoked salmon salad for you”. I thought how nice and good to have thought that, as it was absolutely true that, for various religious reasons, I would not have been able to eat a ham salad. It was a most enjoyable discussion and a very enjoyable lunch.
The noble Lord, Lord Jay—we do not sit on the same Benches, but I think of him as a very good friend, as many people in the Foreign Office become very close to the Diplomatic Service—was in Buckingham Palace at the time. As noble Lords probably saw yesterday, he is a very tall man and, wearing a hat with plumes which stuck up about another two feet, he looked like a basketball player on day release. He was introducing ambassadors, as he described. Her Majesty commented on the fact that there were more ambassadors arriving in London than she had ever seen in the course of her reign and that many of them were from countries she had had to look up. Bosnia-Herzegovina was one that day, and there were one or two others. It created in me a very strange memory. My father gave me stamp album—it did not have many stamps in it—when I was a small child, and I would looked through it and see all these countries, such as Bosnia-Herzegovina, and wonder where on earth they were. There were all sorts of places. I kept that stamp album because it was such a strange moment in history. Her Majesty very graciously said that her grandfather had collected stamps and had some wonderful albums. She asked whether I would like to see them and said that perhaps they would compare with my stamp album. I thought that was extremely unlikely, but I was delighted to take up her offer.
That was not the first time I met her. The first time was in the context of a football match. I have to say that I never thought of Her Majesty as being a very keen football person. There are no horses involved in the game and, try as we might to devise it, we could never find a way of involving horses in football. I had been told that she had a wonderful sense of humour and that she was at the match. She was indeed very gracious and, at the end, when I asked whether she thought anybody had played particularly well, she said, “The band of the Scots Guards”. I thought that was probably a pretty accurate reflection.
Funnily enough, the Scots Guards come into another memory I have, of when President Lula of Brazil made his state visit. At the state banquet, one of the things that Her Majesty liked was to have the pipes of the Scots Guards walk round the outside of the banquet table playing, as only they can. This playing “as only they can” gave a profound shock to President Lula, who thought it was either a declaration of war or something which he had never come across before. He said, “Do you always do this?”, and before I could answer Her Majesty said, “Of course we always do it”.
I have those memories and I couple them with affectionate memories of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, who was also so important on so many of those occasions and who also deserves great credit.
It has been said in this House that, during the course of her long reign, a huge number of things changed. I want to focus briefly on one of them. The invention of atomic weapons took place earlier, and the first explosion of atomic weapons took place during the war. But when thinking about those 70-plus years it struck me that, in that time, we have created circumstances among humanity where we have a capability we did not have, and which was not really thought of when Her Majesty was in the forces, to destroy ourselves completely and wipe out everything we know about human existence. We have the capability not only to obliterate the whole of the past but to obliterate what would have been the accomplishments of the future. I think Her Majesty had a strong sense of the value of the accomplishments of the future as well as of the traditions of the past, and she was well able to talk about them and make you feel them. That is something that I feel at the moment.
At the heart of it was a love of peace and democracy. She espoused both of those, though not in the sense that she would not wish to stand up to ruthless dictators who would try to interrupt peace or destroy democracy; quite the contrary, she would certainly always have wanted to do that, but in the cause of peace and democracy. I treasure having lived through a period in which a monarch felt so strongly about those things.
Yesterday, the noble Lord, Lord Polak, said a little about Jewish tradition at the end of a person’s life, and with great respect to those who are going to shelter my faith under their umbrella—although it does not always seem to me to happen, but none the less I am very keen that they should—I want to do one other thing which is also from Jewish tradition. Many noble Lords may well know it: we wish the family and the people closest to the person who has died long life. It is not just because we wish for them a long life—though we do, of course—but because it is in the lives of the people who survive that memories survive to the greatest extent. We carry the memories. God bless the King. May he have long life and cherish those memories.
My Lords, it is a great honour to follow the noble Lord, Lord Triesman. I will offer some words of tribute on behalf of the people of Coventry and Warwickshire, especially to express our great thanks for the Queen’s part in the renewal of Coventry after its wartime destruction and its discovery of a new identity, aspiring to be a city of peace and reconciliation.
A few days after the worst of the bombing of Coventry, the Queen’s father stood in the ruins of the cathedral and wept. In 1956 the young Queen laid the foundation stone of the new cathedral—a new cathedral for a new Queen, in an ancient city now being rebuilt for a modern age, in a nation finding its place on the international stage in a new Europe and a new world. In 1962, 60 years ago this year, the Queen—herself a consecrated monarch, of course—returned to Coventry for the consecration of the new cathedral. There was hope in the air, and Coventry became a national symbol of the traumas of war, with all its suffering still evident in the ruins, and the possibilities of peace built on reconciliation rising from the ashes of the past into the simple grandeur of the new cathedral. What better person than Queen Elizabeth to lay the foundation stone of a new future and to see a building, a people, a nation consecrated to serve the ways of peace?
Serving the cause of reconciliation for which Coventry Cathedral and its city have become known was remarkably demonstrated through the Queen’s service to the nation and the world, as we have heard in many ways. The Queen helped the nation to celebrate its past and carry forward its great traditions and noblest values while, at the same time, reaching out to the future, accepting its challenges, welcoming its opportunities and easing its coming. Whether steering the nation from imperial power to shaper and sharer in a Commonwealth of Nations, or facing head-on the harm that peoples have inflicted on themselves in families, in communities and between nations, and showing them how we may live better together, the Queen well used the strength of her character and the powers of her office to create new conditions for co-operation.
Among the many examples on the world stage, I pay particular tribute to the Queen’s part in Coventry’s and the country’s reconciliation with Dresden, that symbol of the brutality of war and its challenge to face our own past. Her visit in 1992 with one of my predecessors was a brave act and not without cost to her. It exposed emotions that were still raw in that city, but I know from my own many visits and close relationships that it was deeply healing, transformative even, on the long road to reconciliation.
As we have heard powerfully from the noble Baroness, Lady Coussins, and the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, the Queen’s words and gestures—the way she used the combination of her status and credibility of character to serve the good of the future—were breathtaking in their effect during her state visit to the Republic of Ireland in 2011 and then Belfast in 2012. Again, we saw something, as we have heard, of the risk and cost that walking the road of reconciliation involves. There are many other examples, of course, in her long years of service, as indeed there are in the untiring, unstinting work of her son, our King, in his now former life.
As has been acknowledged, the Queen’s own foundation, the rock on which she built her life, is well known. The cause for which she felt and knew that she was consecrated—God’s kingdom, peace, justice and mercy—served her well. We know that it will also serve our King well. It makes me wonder whether all our foundations and all the causes to which we give ourselves will be as secure and enduring as hers.
The most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York referred to his granddaughter crying when she heard the news. I cannot resist saying the same about my mother. She is 93 and frail. She wept for the Queen and, I think, all that great generation that is passing. She said, “She was always there”—we all feel that—but she also said something that got it for me: “The Queen had such a beautiful face. It was her smile.” That has been referred to already. I was blessed by that smile in the encounters I had with Her Majesty our late Queen. Genuine life-giving smiles can restore relationships that once looked irreparably damaged. Our world is a better place because of the smile of that gracious lady.
My Lords, I guess I am about two-thirds of the way between the most reverend Primate’s granddaughter and the right reverend Prelate’s mother, but I too wept. It was such a moment to hear that our wonderful Queen had died. The right reverend Prelate mentioned peace and reconciliation. Our country and our world are in great need of those now, and I have no doubt that they will be firmly on the agenda of our new King.
I am proud to join in this celebration of the life of Her Majesty the Queen—an inspirational life, a life truly well lived and a life for which we are grateful. She was a remarkable woman, and the tributes made in your Lordships’ House both yesterday and today have also been remarkable. The tributes we have seen in the media have been quite exceptional, and I hope that continues with our new King.
It is impossible to say anything new, but repetition does not detract from the fact that Queen Elizabeth was an extraordinary woman whose dedication to our country and its people was second to none. Hers was a life of service and steadfastness, leadership and love, dignity and integrity—a reassuring constant in a turbulent world. It is difficult to comprehend the breadth of the economic, social, political and technological changes that took place during the second Elizabethan age. She was the continuity Queen who embodied our nation. Hers was a life to be celebrated throughout the world.
I was in Mumbai when news of the Queen’s death was announced. So many people came up to me late that evening and the following morning to give their condolences on the loss for our country and to express their sadness and respect. I did not know these people but clearly, I look like a Brit and therefore was somebody who should be concerned, as I was.
I was privileged to be Lord President of the Council, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms, and in those tasks I met the Queen quite often. I was certainly not the first woman captain, but it seemed to give the Queen pleasure to introduce a female captain—although together we lamented the fact that the women captains did not have the gorgeous uniforms of the men. We talked about that quite often.
Much has been said about the Queen’s sense of humour. Once, when I was lunching at Windsor Castle with the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, there was a conversation about the intrusion of mobile phones. We lamented the fact that people did not turn them off at mealtimes. Suddenly there was a loud ring beneath the table. Yes, it came from my handbag. I was mortified; they thought it was hilarious.
Last year my college, Somerville, was privileged to receive a wonderful visit from the King, the then Prince of Wales. Delving into our history in preparation for the visit, I learned that the Queen visited Somerville in 1968, when we were a women’s college. We have a glorious photo of the beautiful young Queen and the heads of all five women’s colleges. Happily for me, all the heads had studied at Somerville. I have no doubt that that point was proudly made to the Queen. On that visit the Queen signed a birthday book given to the college by Ruskin. It was also signed by her grandmother, Queen Mary, and latterly by her son, King Charles.
In our fragile world, we are embarking on a new era. The Queen will be greatly missed, but I know that the King, supported by the Queen Consort and his family, will also give extraordinary service to the country and the Commonwealth as we meet the great challenges of our time. Through all the work the King has done as the Prince of Wales, he is more aware of those challenges than many in our world.
My Lords, following the contribution from the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, I remind the House courteously that several things need to happen over the next few days, one of which is the preparation for the events leading up to the funeral and another is the necessity for noble Lords to take their oaths. With that courtesy that I know the House would like to see, I remind noble Lords to consider the length of time that they might speak in order to let everybody come in today.
My Lords, I hope that I will not make the Chief Whip cross. I want to share four reflections on Her late Majesty.
First, what a trouper—I hope that is not too irreverent a description of Her late Majesty’s work ethic. The column by journalist Janice Turner in today’s Times on the almost coincident death of the Queen and her own mother highlights the fortitude and stoicism as well as frugality and recycling reflex of that generation. I strongly recognise that in my own late mother, who died in 2015. The fact is that the Queen’s enduring values and habits are now coming back into fashion.
Secondly, what a sport. We had long known, of course, about how the young Princess Elizabeth joined the VE night crowds on the streets of London. Perhaps it is only in recent years, though, that we have appreciated how this evidenced a high-spirited sense of fun. On the unforgettable sketch of the James Bond Olympic parachute—before she turned around, I said to my late husband, “It can’t possibly be her, can it?” It was. This year, the Paddington Bear marmalade sandwich sketch has given us all great memories at which to grin through our tears. It shows that duty and a sense of humour are not mutually exclusive.
My third reflection is that you did not need to be a royalist to mourn the Queen. I have to admit that I hesitated 25 years ago when I was introduced in this House over whether to affirm or to swear allegiance. I chose the latter, out of respect for her and for tradition, but I did have to think about it. So, while I expected to feel sad and grateful for her service when she died, I was caught totally unawares by my own spontaneous tears. I think they were a reaction to the loss of stability and continuity that she represented as well as sheer appreciation of her as a person.
I never had the privilege of meeting Her Majesty, but my rather republican-leaning late husband met her at least twice in his capacity as a council leader—as well as now Queen Consort Camilla, in the course of charitable work. Whenever I suggested that I might try for tickets for a Buckingham Palace garden party he was rather cool but, when he got the chance to go, to represent the health trust he then chaired, I was dispatched immediately to buy a hat. Such was the personal power of Her Majesty.
My last point is to note the astonishing wave of international and European support and appreciation, not just from Presidents and Prime Ministers but from a football stadium in Italy and a town band in Nice. She was, as others have said, a great diplomat. Noting, of course, what a great friend she was to France and her excellent French, President Macron said:
“To you, she was your Queen. To us, she was The Queen.”
My Lords, I am very grateful for this opportunity to pay tribute to the late Queen. I ask myself why I was so moved and so saddened when I heard the news on Thursday; there are two things that stand out for me. One is that, ever since I was a small boy in south Wales in the dark 1940s, the Royal Family has been for me a beacon of probity, leadership and something very magical; that has been through my life. President Obama once said he felt that he was a screen on which the American people projected their deep-felt longings. That is certainly true of the Queen and explains a lot of the emotion we all have.
Secondly, as head of the Civil Service, I was privileged to meet the Queen on a number of occasions. I will not say I knew her, but I have talked to her. I developed huge respect as she carried an enormous load; the new King will carry it. For me, it is about the constitution. The monarch is still, in our strange way of doing things, the source of all power. He or she dissolves and summons Parliament, approves legislation, appoints Prime Ministers and Ministers, heads the Armed Forces, the courts service and the prisons and, of course, is head of the Civil Service, both diplomatic and civil. As a civil servant, I served her for 36 years. My duty was to Ministers, but my service was to the monarch.
I think anecdotes are the best way of passing on this kind of memory. I have a few, but I will cut them short. One is that, soon after I became Cabinet Secretary, I was invited to stay at Windsor Castle and, after dinner, Her Majesty took me to the library and showed me the then Prime Minister Disraeli’s handwritten letters to Queen Victoria, recounting to her exactly what had happened in Cabinet and how he felt about it. She wanted to make the point to me that she still got—in those days, before it was all digitised—number one copy of the Cabinet minutes. She wanted to make the point that the purpose of Cabinet minutes was primarily to convey to the monarch what the Cabinet was up to, since the Prime Minister was probably too busy to write. I certainly did not promise that Mr Blair would do so.
My second anecdote is a small thing—my impression of her was about dogs and horses. On one occasion, I was sat next to her at a lunch. At some point during the meal, a footman opened a door and a tidal wave of corgis came in and settled around my feet while she fed them. I said that they were beautiful dogs; they were beautifully tended. She said, “I had to have one of them put down yesterday.” I said, “I am so sorry: that must have been very sad.” She said, “Well, he was a lovely dog, but he was getting aggressive. In fact, he bit me.”
Then she pulled back the chair and I found myself admiring the royal leg, but she had a horrible wound on it. I said, “Oh dear. I hope you have been to a doctor.” For a moment, I saw the real grief that she felt over the dog. Then she pulled herself together and said, “Of course I have been. Now, have you ever had a dog?” And we got into a different conversation; but I saw for a moment that this is what had been in her mind when she was feeding the dogs and as they moved by.
On another occasion, I had tea with her—I will not explain why—at Ascot. I was sitting on her left and the three other people at the table were all racehorse owners. I can tell you only that the conversation was hugely technical and she was absolutely up with the others, putting them on the spot and cross-examining them about their horses. My goodness me, she knew her stuff.
Beyond these trivial things, she was such a tower of strength. She led in a way that made it look effortless but, my goodness, we were lucky; we have all remarked on that. We should express deep gratitude that we had her for 70 years of peace and prosperity and wish the new King well; he is well up to the job and has himself the seeds of greatness. We should echo what the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, quoted: she was Elizabeth the Great. God save the Queen, and God save the King.
My Lords, I offer His Majesty King Charles and the whole of the Royal Family my deepest condolences on the passing of their mother, Her most inspiring Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. As many noble Lords have said, this day was inevitable, but somehow we never expected it to happen. In recent times, knowing of Her Majesty’s ill health, I would assure myself that she would live until at least 110, so it was a tremendous shock to hear the sad news on Thursday evening that Her Majesty had indeed passed away in her beloved home in Scotland.
She was a constant presence. I remember as a little girl seeing this beautiful lady on the television and on the covers of magazines and newspapers, far more glamorous than any movie star and with such grace, elegance and dignity. Later in life, when I had the great honour of meeting Her Majesty—wonderfully, on more than one occasion—her kindness and informality made those moments very special, despite being nerve-wracking at the same time.
It was always clear that her family were uppermost in her mind. In 2006, when I was invited to Buckingham Palace by Her Majesty for an intimate lunch for 12, I remember that when she spoke with me and the other two ladies invited in the drawing room prior to lunch, she immediately told us how upset she was that her lovely granddaughter Zara had fallen from her horse and really hurt herself. It was the heart-warming concern of a grandmother, just like any other. Similarly, on my going to see Her Majesty formally before taking up the position of Government Whip in 2016 along with two other colleagues, she spoke about her uncle Fergus Bowes-Lyon, who had died in the First World War, and how it had taken 100 years until the whereabouts of his body were finally confirmed. There was no attempt to hide the deep sadness, but a willingness to share that common humanity that binds us all and to share those emotions of love, loss and grief.
On the last occasion when I met her, it became apparent to me that here was a person of infinite wisdom and kindness, the sort of wisdom and kindness that are etched on the faces of great spiritual beings. She left an impression on all who met her, even those who had only seen her from afar or on their television screens.
There was the greatest admiration for her from every part of the Commonwealth and beyond. My parents, who came to this country from the Commonwealth, had the greatest respect and affection for Her Majesty. My late father-in-law was strong and successful in his youth, but in his mid-90s, as his memory dimmed, he could not quite remember even the name of his own son. Still, when his son visited him in Pakistan, he said, “Young man, you come from London. There is a lady there, the Queen. She is a wonderful woman.” That was the one outstanding and lasting memory that he had of his time living in Britain.
Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s devotion and service to her country and people is a legacy of epic proportions. May she rest in peace, and may King Charles III have a long, happy and illustrious reign.
My Lords, I am afraid it is very hard to know where one comes in the pecking order in this debate, so I apologise to anyone who feels that I have stepped ahead of them.
The impact of Her late Majesty’s death has been immense, as we have heard in this debate and beyond. We are all diminished, shocked and thrown off balance by the loss of such a key figure in our life, the life of the nation and indeed the world. Our thoughts are with her family and especially with His Majesty the King, who is assuming his onerous new role at a time of great personal sadness. His first address to us all was profoundly affecting. For me, as he spoke those words from the end of “Hamlet”, in my head I heard the opening chords of another farewell, doubtless familiar to many of your Lordships: the “Angel’s Farewell” from Elgar’s setting of Cardinal Newman’s “The Dream of Gerontius”:
“Softly and gently, dearly-ransomed soul,
In my most loving arms I now enfold thee”.
The King, who I believe has long understood the consoling power of great art, will need our love as well as our allegiance as he takes up his duties.
I was born in the reign of King George VI and, indeed, attended his lying in state in 1952 when I was a very small child. I am not entirely sure why my father thought it appropriate to bring one so young to queue on Westminster Bridge in the February fog, and to be honest I do not remember much about it, but I am glad I have the photograph to prove that I was there.
What I absolutely remember is going over a year later to the pub in our village to watch Her late Majesty’s coronation on television. I had never seen a television before. The screen was tiny and the room was hot and crowded, but none the less the grandeur and magic of the ceremony came through clearly. Although I have watched it many times since, that first impression stays with me of a radiant young woman at the centre of a magnificent piece of theatre embarking on a lifetime of service—and, my word, what a lifetime it turned out to be.
I shall speak very briefly, because much that needed to be said has already been said, mostly by the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, about the Queen’s relationship with the arts, particularly with the theatre, where she was closely involved with the two organisations with which my I spent most of my professional life: the Royal Shakespeare Company, of which she was patron from the granting of its royal charter in 1961 until her death, and the Royal National Theatre, where she was recently succeeded as patron by the Duchess of Cornwall, now Queen Consort. Her Majesty’s patronage was hugely important to those organisations, as indeed it was to the whole cultural sector, which benefited so much from her interest and support.
I was privileged to meet her several times. I was going to share an anecdote, as so many noble Lords have done, but in the interests of brevity I have decided not to. Maybe there will be another time; noble Lords will just have to wait and see. What I wanted to say is that monarchy must be performed, as Shakespeare knew very well. I think Her Majesty was one of the great performers of our age. She famously said, “I have to be seen to be believed.” She knew that convincing performance is never about faking or pretending; it is about embodying truth. Throughout her life she had an unfailing capacity to understand exactly who she needed to be in every different circumstance, from great occasions of state through to taking on, as we have heard referenced so many times, an animatronic bear, and completely upstaging him with quietly impeccable comic timing.
She knew how to scale up and to scale down. She understood the diversity of her audiences and could adapt to their different needs while remaining always essentially herself. This ability was partly a natural gift, certainly, but also, as with all great performers, the result of meticulous preparation and unremitting hard work. As we saw, Her Majesty never stopped working at it right up until the end. She was and will remain an example to us all. May she rest in peace.
My Lords, we have heard many wonderful tributes to Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Like others, I want to give thanks for her life of service, love and humility, rooted in her faith in Jesus Christ. I am delighted that the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York mentioned those jigsaws and those barbecues in winter. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, in a moving and poignant way, mentioned the experience of paying homage. I want to add one slightly amusing story to the wealth of tributes that relate to paying homage because, as has been said, our late Queen had an amazing smile and a great sense of humour.
As with all diocesan bishops, after I was announced as Bishop of Gloucester, I went to Buckingham Palace to pay homage. I was the first female diocesan bishop she had ever received and there was a certain amount of fluttering before the doors opened about whether I should curtsy or bow, wearing my robes. Just before we went in when, as usual, the Bible was being carried in on a cushion open at the verse I had chosen, I was told that I would be asked to kiss the Bible at the appropriate moment. There were a few moments of anxiety as I said, “I can’t possibly do that”, and some anxious glances as if there was some deep theological reason why I would not kiss this amazing Bible. I simply said, “I’m wearing lipstick”; that had never been experienced before. I was told simply to put my nose into it, which is what I did.
After the formalities of paying homage, she immediately put me at my ease and, as we chatted, spoke to me about being the first female diocesan bishop. Rather amusingly, she said that her husband Philip wondered what on earth my husband would do, and indeed what the husbands of other bishops would do. I found that rather amusing because I thought of all people in the country who should know what the husband of a bishop would do, one was the Duke of Edinburgh.
At this time of huge loss and mourning, I give such thanks to God for a life well lived—a life of faith and love. I recall the verse I chose that day of paying homage was from the Gospel of John, and it is one that the Queen lived. In Jesus Christ’s words to his followers: “Abide in me”. She did and she does. May she rest in peace and rise in glory. God save the King.
My Lords, la reine est morte, vive le roi. We have had such a wealth of personal stories illustrating the humility of Her Majesty, her warmth and her faith. My own immediate memory, alas, is of shame to me. I was sitting next but one to her at a Commonwealth conference in Westminster Hall when, alas, my mobile phone went off and I was the subject of a well-deserved regal stare, which stayed with me for a very long time.
Historians will see the last week as the end of an era, the like of which we shall not see again. The new King faces formidable tasks. He will have little difficulty in improving on the record of Charles I and Charles II, but he will have extreme difficulty in following in the footsteps of his beloved and late mother, in spite of his unprecedentedly long apprenticeship. For a person with strong and controversial views, many of which I share, he will have difficulty in not airing them in public but will seek inspiration from the discretion of his late mother and her serene sense of duty. Where she did have strong views, the only ones she could express in public related to horses, family and her corgi dogs.
One feature which has been mentioned, particularly by the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, was that the late Queen was a great reconciler. If we think back to the 2011 visit of Her Majesty to Dublin, no politician could have achieved what she did at Croke Park and in Dublin Castle when she put a veil over all the troubles of the past and paved the way for a much warmer relationship with our cousins in the Republic of Ireland. History will certainly see her as one of the greatest monarchs—possibly the greatest, as the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, said, suggesting that perhaps she should be named “Elizabeth the Great”. As a Welshman, I much prefer the precedent of Hywel Dda—Hywel the Good. Perhaps, given her many superlative moral qualities, “Elizabeth the Good” might be a far better title for her. She was part of the glue keeping together the Commonwealth and our union, both of which are suffering the possibility of great turbulence in the future.
I recall that in 1986 I was at Lancaster House when the Commonwealth was in danger of dividing over apartheid and South Africa. It was her own role which helped to heal that. She was so sure-footed in allowing her views on South Africa and apartheid to be aired not publicly but through intermediaries, who made clear her own concerns about the future of the Commonwealth.
The Crown is a symbol of our unity as a United Kingdom. It is conceivable that over the next decade or so there will be unprecedented strains on the position of Scotland— and possibly of Wales—within the union, and of course also in the Commonwealth. Ireland may indeed be reunited as an island over that period, and it will require great skill by the new monarch to navigate a path to meet these many challenges.
I notice my noble and learned friend Lord Morris of Aberavon is here and know of the role he played at the investiture in 1967 in Caernarfon Castle. As a Welshman who also attended, I recognise the role which the late Queen played in the life of the Principality. I rejoice that we have a new Prince of Wales and hope that he will follow well in the footsteps of his predecessor, the current King. The late Queen won the hearts of the people of Wales with the human sympathy she showed in the tragedy of Aberfan, as my noble friend Lady Andrews said so well.
At a time of great solemnity, perhaps I might introduce a moment of levity which illustrates at the same time the depth of love for the Queen in my own native Swansea. It happened during a royal celebration—it was probably the Golden Jubilee—when there were many street parties with flags and bunting all around. One good lady on a council estate had painted her house red, white and blue. I stood alongside her on the pavement, looking at her house, and she said to me gravely, “Mr Anderson, we may not pay our rent but we are loyal.” That perhaps summed up part of the view in those parts.
We recognise that we owe a great deal of gratitude to the late Queen for her life of service, including her service to Wales. She will live for ever in our memories as a pillar of faith. Her belief in God allowed her to view all the events of the day in the perspective of eternity. What an example, which we trust King Charles will now follow. We will stand alongside him as he faces many challenges. May God’s blessing be upon him. Long live the King.
My Lords, as a schoolboy, I read The Queens and the Hive by Dame Edith Sitwell. The book describes the court of Queen Elizabeth I. There is a description of her Privy Council, towards the end of her reign, facing fear and confusion over what a change of sovereign would mean. Even the oldest counsellor on the Privy Council had known only one monarch. The Privy Council of Good Queen Bess was much smaller than the one I joined in 2010, but I can sympathise with the dilemma. I have just celebrated my 70th birthday but on the day I was born, the Queen was already on the Throne. She is the only monarch I have ever known; my grandparents’ generation would live through six different sovereigns.
The late Queen was born into a turbulent world. Britain was recovering from the First World War, the Russian civil war was barely over, European royal families were dropping like ninepins and revolution was everywhere. We know that this story ends happily, but it was not preordained. Our country could easily have slipped into becoming a republic. It did not because of the way the monarchy adapted to the modern world. Admittedly, the modern monarchy was built on her grandfather’s good sense and her father’s example of public service, but the modern monarchy is now built around her late Majesty’s sense of duty and service; it is in her image.
Her late Majesty led by example and was keen to push good causes along. I have had personal experience of this latter point. In 2005 she became the patron of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and stayed for a full 10 years. His Majesty King Charles III replaced her as patron when he was the Prince of Wales. He has proved to be equally enthusiastic and generous with his time. I should declare I am the vice-president of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.
Her late Majesty learned about the horrors of the Nazis as a teenager. She had a deep appreciation of the importance of survivors. In 2015, 70 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, she reminded us:
“Many refugees and survivors of the camps and ghettoes found a home in the United Kingdom and have given us their energy and commitment.”
To the surprise of many at a Holocaust memorial event in 2005 at St James’s Palace, she broke with royal protocol to mingle with survivors. We have a description of what happened from a friend of many in this Chamber, the late Rabbi Lord Sacks:
“One of her attendants said that he had never known her to linger so long after her scheduled departure. She gave each survivor—it was a large group—her focused, unhurried attention. She stood with each until they had finished telling their personal story.”
At this reception, the Roma and Sinti were included for the first time; two Romany survivors were presented to Her Majesty.
In 2015, Her late Majesty visited Bergen-Belsen, where 50,000 prisoners were murdered by violence and neglect. She was accompanied by her beloved husband the Duke of Edinburgh. They walked together among the mounds of the mass graves. There was no pomp or ceremony of any kind. The BBC movingly described them as
“just a couple from the wartime generation taking their time to reflect and to pay their respects.”
On the visit, the royal pair met one of the liberators of the camp, the former pilot Captain Eric Brown. The Queen asked him what sorts of scenes greeted the British troops when he arrived. He said:
“I told her this was just a field of corpses … She was listening very carefully. I would say she was quite affected by the atmosphere here.”
For many survivors, the Queen and the Royal Family are synonymous with the welcome they received in the UK. Let one of them speak for them all. Joan Salter MBE said:
“I came to the UK as a child survivor of the Holocaust in 1947 and I remember the excitement surrounding the Queen’s coronation. For someone who came from so much upheaval and trauma, the Queen has been an important symbol of wisdom and stability for me.”
Many of us could say the same thing.
Our late Queen now rests in the arms of the Almighty. She may do so with the certainty that her legacy of duty and service is safe and secure. God save the King.
My Lords, I will talk about music, but will concentrate largely on animals, which were so loved by our late Queen, as we have already heard from all around your Lordships’ House. It is a great honour and privilege to be able to pay tribute to such a much-loved monarch.
I was fortunate to serve on the committee for the Queen’s Medal for Music and repeatedly saw how the Queen embraced nervous recipients and talked at length, putting them at ease and making them feel comfortable. They were all charmed. On one occasion, sitting next to Her Majesty during a fiendishly difficult piano piece with fistfuls of notes, we remarked how three hands would really be useful. The soloist departed, came back to take a bow and stumbled as she came on to the stage. There followed the observation: “Three feet would be good too.”
From three feet, to four: the royal corgis, of which we have heard much—they would expect nothing less—were always put to dutiful use. We have heard examples of it. It is quite a clever use of these animals. I make no excuse for repeating a story some noble Lords will already have heard. On my BBC Radio 3 programme, “Private Passions” and in his book, the war surgeon David Nott recalled how, returning from Syria and in a state of terrible post-traumatic stress, he was placed next to the Queen at a lunch at Buckingham Palace.
Her Majesty said, “Tell me about things in Aleppo now.” David was in such a completely paralysed state that he found himself unable to speak. Sensing his hurt, the insightful monarch summoned a footman to fetch the biscuit tin. She passed the tin to David, who, momentarily, in his confusion, thought this was a royal command to eat one of the dog biscuits. He then realised that he was being invited to feed the aforementioned quadrupeds. As, now distracted, he did so, the Queen touched his hand, saying, “Now, that’s better, isn’t it?” Her Majesty had, through her insight, rescued and relaxed him and set free his tongue.
The Queen had a much-loved red Labrador called Sandringham Sydney. As chairman of the Royal Ballet governors, I had to write an annual report to our royal patron. I could not resist naughtily adding a handwritten postscript:
“On another matter, arguably of less national importance, I have a red descendant of Sandringham Sydney who has produced puppies and my brother-in-law is so besotted with his puppy that he dreamed he put him down for Eton.”
I had two letters back. One rather formally acknowledged the Royal Ballet report, but the other was clearly revelling in the concept of putting a dog down for Eton. I loved the idea that my missive was replied to with two compartmentalised communications—the formal and the humorously canine. From then on, whenever I met Her Majesty, the problems of preserving and continuing that red colour through the work of the Sandringham kennelman would be a welcome byway from the usual niceties of retrograde inversion and music that perhaps were a little difficult to comprehend on occasion.
Let us move on to another favoured creature. It is a great sadness to me personally that my brother-in-law, Michael Bond, did not live to see Paddington Bear—his creation—charm the nation and Her Majesty. Was not that sequence a wonderful example of the great sense of fun that Her Majesty had? Her sense of mischief and delight in the absurd, which she bequeathed to her children, underlined her ability to connect with people and laugh at the unforeseen.
Finally, has not the Queen somehow continued her benevolent influence, as parliamentarians here and in the other place have, in my humble opinion, risen above themselves to make such eloquent and moving tributes? So too did our new King, Charles III, passionately. Long live the King.
My Lords, like many, I remember watching the Queen’s Coronation in 1953 on a small black and white television. As we have heard, the world today is very different from the world of that post-war period. But, although it has changed dramatically, the values of our society have remained constant, as our new King reminded us last night. The Queen promoted those values through her absolute commitment to parliamentary government, through her dedication and sense of service, through her loyalty and through her resilience.
Among her many achievements, two stand out for me. First, she was our Head of State, with a clear constitutional role. She was an extremely successful Head of State, understanding the requirements and limitations of the role. But, in truth, she was something more: she was the head of our nation. She reflected us—our country, our people and our society—and she knew when to provide support, such as in the recent pandemic. She had the gift of being able to bring people together—witness her visits to Germany and Ireland and the symbolic importance that those visits had.
Secondly, when she sensed a need for change, she made it happen—for example, in managing our transition from Empire to the Commonwealth, whose current strength owes so much to her leadership, as we have heard. She became the most widely travelled Head of State in the world, which I feel is a tribute to her resolution to build the Commonwealth.
Her Majesty visited my home city of Newcastle upon Tyne on many occasions to undertake official engagements. I remember her opening Eldon Square shopping centre on her Silver Jubilee in 1977 and distributing the royal Maundy money in St Nicholas Cathedral in 1990. She opened several of Tyneside’s major infrastructure projects, such as the Metro and the A1 western bypass. She also opened our new city library and the Great North Museum. In Gateshead in recent years, she opened the Gateshead Millennium Bridge and Sage Gateshead. I was present at many of these visits and several things stood out: her genuine interest in what she was seeing, her desire to learn from those she was meeting and, when she did walkabouts in the city centre, the happiness with which she was greeted by the thousands of people who had made the journey to welcome her. I remember their cheering, the flags and the flowers, which always made for a memorable occasion.
When her father died, the Queen promised to devote her life to the service of our country, but, as the King pointed out last night, it was her personal commitment that defined her life. It was not just a promise; it was 70 years of personal commitment. So we express our profound sorrow on Her Majesty the Queen’s death. We thank her for her lifetime of service and achievement. To our new King, we express our loyalty and support.
My Lords, I am sorry for that slightly unseemly moment.
There have been many fine tributes and I am sure that there will be many more from all corners of the House. That reflects the way in which we have all been touched by the life of Her Majesty the late Queen. We have all suffered a loss but, until Thursday evening, I had not appreciated how much of a loss was felt around the world. I happened to be in Rotterdam at an international conference and I noted the number of delegates from all corners of the world who came up to express their condolences, in a way that reflected the fact that they recognised that, for someone from this country, this was a personal loss, like that of a family member. But, as they spoke, they also talked about their own sense of loss, because the Queen touched all of their lives, all around the world.
Continuity and permanence were part of what it was all about—the noble Baroness mentioned the words of President Macron. So what do we all remember about Her late Majesty? First, there are those acts of unsung kindness, such as the daffodils delivered, without any publicity, to hospital staff rooms during Covid.
Above all, I think that we most remember that mischievous twinkle. Theresa May has probably stolen the market with her anecdote about the cheese, but I too have a cheese anecdote, although it happened not to me but to a senior police officer, who found himself sitting next to the Queen at a small dinner at Sandringham. As is often the case, towards the end of the meal, a very large Stilton slowly circulated around the guests. In it was a spoon, with which you were supposed to dig in and that was your portion. So he dug in, but he could not detach the Stilton from the spoon. He tried more and more forcefully, until it flew off, and he decided that he would give up and pass the Stilton on. It reached the Queen and, looking him firmly in the eye, she dug the spoon in and then demonstrated that, when you pressed a little button on the side of it, the Stilton dropped out. That twinkle remained with him for ever.
We have all had our experiences and I think that we should limit ourselves to two anecdotes a speech at most. My personal anecdote is about when I was a council leader and, at the request of the children, the Queen came to a primary school in my borough. She had visited around 30 years before, when the school was reopened after it had been bombed in the Second World War. But it then suffered a fire and, when work on it was completed, the children wrote to the palace. I am very touched that she decided to visit. I was just a bystander, watching the way in which she arrived, engaged and so on. Of course, the children made presentations: first they gave a bunch of flowers, then there was a concert and then the Queen was presented with a papier-mâché crown, the best description of which would be of the exuberance with which it had clearly been put together. The twinkle with which the Queen received it, thanked the children and then spent far longer than her attendants had expected talking to and playing with the children was remarkable.
Several people have asked how we will, or should, remember Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. A number of noble Lords have talked about “Elizabeth the Great” or “Elizabeth the Good”. There are other suggestions and one I particularly like is “Elizabeth the Dutiful”. But for me and, I suspect, for many other people, it will be as the Queen with the mischievous twinkle—not just for us but particularly for the children.
My Lords, it is an honour to follow the noble Lord, Lord Harris—I had had an indication that I was apparently due to speak before him.
There is a great tradition in Muslim communities of a 40-day period of mourning at the passing of a close family member. That period is spent, among other things, reminiscing, remembering and recounting stories of the deceased; it is part of the grieving process. So today I wish to recount a few short stories of Her late Majesty.
In 1977, at the age of six in a small town in Yorkshire, I celebrated the Silver Jubilee. The school had decided that the way we were going to do that was to dress up as Liquorice Allsorts—I have still not worked out why. So there I was, dressed in a box with pink and black stripes, marching around the town. For six year-old me, the Queen was a distant, magical, almost mythical figure, removed from my life in that Yorkshire town. Years later, in 2010, then in my late 30s, I joined the Cabinet and attended my first meeting of the Privy Council. This was my journey, but it was also one of many journeys that played out during Her late Majesty’s reign and an example of what was possible during it and how this country had changed.
On Thursday evening, as the sad news of the Queen’s passing came through, my daughter called me. As with Her Majesty, she is the first woman in our family to serve in uniform, and she reminded me that we both had had the privilege of working for Her Majesty—she had been our boss. For that, we will both always be grateful. In time and for future generations, Her late Majesty will become a historical figure, but, for us, she will for ever remain someone whom we had the honour of serving.
I want finally to mention pets. I never grew up with pets in our working class, mill-working parents’ home. They had enough mouths to feed with their children. It left me with a lifelong fear of animals. So when I was invited to a small lunch at Windsor Castle and found myself in the company of the Queen and her corgis, I am not sure who struck fear in me most. My face must have reflected my racing heartbeat and my sweating palms. In the way that many noble Lords have reflected on today, in that very human and warm way, the Queen sensed my anxiety, smiled, engaged me in conversation and put me at ease. She also left me in no doubt that, although I was her invited lunch guest, the corgis came first.
Yesterday at Friday prayers, mosques up and down the country held prayers and paid their respects to our departed monarch. She was a friend of Muslim communities, both here in the United Kingdom and across the world. The tributes that have poured in are testament to that. So in line with Islamic tradition, I say this. Verily we belong to God and verily to him do we return. May her journey hereon be one of ease and her eternal final destination be one of peace. Long live the King.
My Lords, in 1947, the young Princess Elizabeth, celebrating her 21st birthday and on a tour of South Africa, made a speech which would give definition to her 70 years as monarch, setting out her belief that she was called to service. In 2007, there were echoes of that speech during a Roscoe Lecture which I had invited Prince Charles, now King Charles III, to deliver in Liverpool and at which we presented him with an honorary fellowship of Liverpool John Moore’s University. His reference in his lecture to TS Eliot’s “cycles of heaven” seems particularly apposite today. His mother’s promise six decades earlier had been that she would dedicate
“my whole life … to your service”,
and this became her lodestar, guiding her unstinting belief in the centrality of public service to the principle of duty, and it shaped her self-evident goodness.
In his first, warm and well-received message to the nation last night, King Charles reiterated those very same words, understanding that his mother has redefined how in a parliamentary democracy a constitutional monarchy must be steeped in selflessness, stoicism and politically detached public service, all of which Queen Elizabeth exemplified. Never partisan, her wise, generous and shrewd presence and leadership by example have been at the heart of our parliamentary democracy and, therefore, of our politics throughout my life.
I first saw the Queen when I was a child at primary school in the 1950s and she came to our town to perform a civic duty to open the town’s new council offices. We lined the pavements, waved our flags and cheered. Years later, I would welcome her to my Liverpool constituency, and here and in another place for more than 40 years have sat through all the Queen’s Speeches of that time, and all of us here have participated in the debates that have led to many of the 3,500 Acts of Parliament to which she gave Royal Assent.
Underlining how much has changed during those years and how rapidly things now change, it is worth noting that a baby born at the beginning of this week in which the Queen died will have already lived under the reign of a Head of State and the leadership of a premier who were different from those in those posts at the end of the same week. That such a transition could take place in an orderly and peaceful way tells us a great deal about the strength of constitutional monarchy, about the stewardship of Queen Elizabeth and about the ground rules for good governance which she has bequeathed to King Charles, and all this in an age and time of uncertainty and in a disordered world.
Democracies, in an age of authoritarian regimes, populists, ideologues and dictators, are fragile affairs. Buffeted in the headwinds of pandemic, war, consequential economic instability and political extremism, our democracies are vulnerable to enemies, old and new. It is salutary to observe how, in the face of such extraordinary, monumental challenges, which sometimes seem even existential, a constitutional monarchy has provided continuity, cohesion, courage, stability and strength.
Her late Majesty’s abiding belief in seeking the best was never seen more vividly than during her historic and reconciling visit to Ireland in 2011, and which has been referred to. It was a watershed, bridge-building moment in British-Irish relations, which have been mired in so much bitterness, violence and bad and tainted history. She insisted that we must
“bow to the past, but not be bound by it”—
a view which would have been echoed by my late mother, born in County Mayo and whose first language was Irish.
This refusal to be bound by the past was not a new discovery. In that 1947 Cape Town speech, the young Princess said that we could no longer simply see the world through the eyes of William Pitt. She insisted that we must embrace all people,
“whatever race they come from, and whatever language they speak.”
This was not unlike her belief in an evolving monarchy, and she said that
“an unwavering faith, a high courage, and a quiet heart”
would make the Commonwealth,
“which we all love so dearly, an even grander thing.”
It was true then; it is true now.
From his mother, King Charles has inherited this extraordinary network of nations. The Commonwealth is almost a third of the world’s population, comprising 2.4 billion people living in some 56 countries—an amazing legacy. But whether at home or abroad, the watchword has been public service and duty, the vocation to which she knew she was called when she emphatically declared:
“There is a motto which has been borne by many of my ancestors - a noble motto, ‘I serve’.”
As the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York reminded us, the Queen has often said that her belief in public service was inspired by her faith. Yesterday, as I signed a book of condolence in Liverpool, both our cathedrals were united as places of real mourning and prayer. In 1947, she called on God to help her to make good her vow. Down the decades, in each of her Christmas Day broadcasts, she would remind the country of the centrality of her faith and of her profound respect for people of other faiths and traditions. The central message was mutual respect and service for the common good.
To conclude, at the outset of the Covid pandemic, she pointed the British people to the future and said:
“I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge, and those who come after us will say the Britons of this generation were as strong as any, that the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet, good-humoured resolve, and of fellow feeling still characterise this country. The pride in who we are is not a part of our past, it defines our present and our future.”
These characteristics and attributes, which she hoped might identify the British people—good humour, resolve, self-discipline and fellow feeling—are most certainly qualities that can be ascribed to a much-loved and remarkable Queen who promised, as a 21-year-old, to serve her country throughout all her days and who unfailingly kept her word in doing so. Thank God for the Queen and her life of service, and long live the King.
My Lords, when training to be a professional linguist, I was trained to drill down to as few words as possible, so forgive my lack of eloquence now. When I think of Her late Majesty the Queen, I drill down to one word: grace. She exercised grace in her responsibilities at every level, and it was rooted in her avowed and admitted need of the grace of God; it was where her discipline of accountability came from.
It is only by sitting here when the Queen was delivering her gracious Speech one year that I realised that we inhabit the constitution here. We do our business, as the judiciary, the Executive and the legislature, in the name of Her Majesty, but she reads the gracious Speech in the name of God as she looks up and sees the barons of the Magna Carta around this Chamber. It is that accountability that must lie at the heart of her legacy, if our words are not to be merely sentimental, nostalgic or empty. I trust that, in the reign of King Charles, this accountability, rooted in his already stated need of the grace of God, will characterise our common life. Long live the King.
Thinking about the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, I have been struck by several factors. First, like most people alive today, I have only ever known a Queen. When you say, “God save the King”, it seems like something from a historical play, and we will have a great deal of getting used to it. This has become apparent, listening to these tributes, by the number of noble Lords who have made the mistake—I will probably make it myself—of referring to the Queen in the present tense rather than the past. There is a very strong feeling of a permanency that has been removed.
Secondly, the greatest achievement of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s reign is probably soft power. My noble friend Lord Alderdice has already mentioned her tremendous achievement in Ireland by making the settlement work there. I hope it is also worthwhile for me to join those who have commented on the Commonwealth. When an empire becomes a commonwealth, it is a considerable achievement. Empires do not usually come about because a nation has been invited to rule people; there are usually marching feet and weapons involved. The fact that we have transformed the Empire into the Commonwealth, and that it has grown and prospered, is a magnificent achievement. The fact that it was achieved by people who were not involved in that Empire is remarkable. This was all done under the leadership of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It will probably be regarded as her greatest achievement: the United Kingdom’s soft power, its projection and its cultural values have become things that we will all remember.
There is also the personal touch. As has already been mentioned, the Queen was “the Queen”; there was no other worldwide. The best example of that that I can find is from many years ago. I went through a friend’s record collection and found a BB King album on which he talks about meeting the Queen and giving her advice about what you do when you have too many parties to go to. I feel that the advice could probably have been going the other way. Nevertheless, everybody knew who the Queen was, and His Majesty King Charles III has a great opportunity and burden to carry on that work. I wish him every success.
During her long reign, Her late Majesty demonstrated hard work, tireless commitment, loyalty, dignity and respect for duty and became the longest-serving monarch in British history. The changes that she saw over that time are quite astounding. In my part of the United Kingdom—Wales—the heavy industry that I grew up with in the mining areas has given way to financial and other services. Indeed, the United Kingdom itself is very different. Power is dispersed to other Parliaments in the four nations of the UK. Movement to and from the Commonwealth, the European Union and beyond has fashioned a more diverse and multicultural people in our society. Throughout her long life, the late Queen was an example of the importance of public duty. She clearly valued community, public service and loyalty to others.
I echo the comments of the First Minister of Wales, who said yesterday:
“It is with great sadness that”
people in Wales mourn
“the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II”
“her long and exceptional life, as our longest reigning monarch”.
Perhaps the most significant and long-lasting connection between Wales and the late Queen grew out of her empathy following the Aberfan disaster, as noted by my noble friends. That Friday in October 1966, as a young schoolgirl in Pontygwaith Primary School in the Rhondda, I stood in the playground after lunchtime and, along with my friends and under the instruction of our headmaster Mr Lewis, I closed my eyes, put my hands together and prayed for the children of Aberfan. I had never heard of the place before that day, as it was several valleys to the west, but I have never forgotten it since. The late Queen continued to make visits to the village over the decades and, indeed, visited it more than any other member of the Royal Family.
The first time I saw her in person was at Buckingham Palace in the summer of 2009. I was struck by her luminescence; she simply shone. The next time I saw her in person was in your Lordships’ House in December 2019 when attending my first State Opening, and the moment of seeing her again in person was extraordinary, especially as I was now one of her trusty and beloved servants, a phrase and understanding that will live with me for the rest of my life.
Yesterday was the day His Majesty conferred the title of Prince of Wales—Tywysog Cymru—on his eldest son. God bless the Prince of Wales. Yesterday evening, I joined the Bishop of Monmouth and the leader of Newport City Council at the city’s St Woolos’ Cathedral to take part in a service of thanksgiving for the life of our late Queen. It was a moment of extreme poignancy to sing for the first time in public—and we are good singers in Wales—“God save the King”, and I am glad that it took place in my home city and the place from where I proudly take my title. Tomorrow, I shall join the leader of the council and others to take part in the official proclamation ceremony at Newport Civic Centre and will then return to London on Monday to hear the King’s Address to both Houses of Parliament.
On the death of his father, Wales’s finest poet, Dylan Thomas, wrote:
“Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
God bless you, ma’am, and may you rest in peace. Er côf annwyl. God save the King.
My Lords, I have just had a word with the Opposition Chief Whip. There is a combination of feeling in this House, I think, that people want to have their say but also want others to keep their remarks succinct. There are people who have to get trains home this evening and, as I said earlier, preparations must get under way for the events and funeral upcoming. We have not put time limits on tributes, but in order for us not to have to do that I respectfully request that noble Lords keep their comments succinct.
My Lords, when I had the great honour to be introduced in this House on 14 June this year, little did I imagine that mine would be the very last Letters Patent to be issued by Her late Majesty in connection with a government appointment. Two more distinguished Cross-Benchers—more distinguished than I—were created in June and July, but I believe that I am the most junior Member of this House to make my humble tribute.
Like some others of your Lordships, I have a clear memory of the day that Her late Majesty came to the Throne. When my father picked me up, aged five, from school to say that the King had died, it was clear that he was very deeply affected, even in those days of the stiff upper lip. For that generation, the premature death of their shy but steadfast sovereign who had led them through so much was perhaps even more dreadful. At least we now know how they must have felt. With her adored father as a central inspiration, Her late Majesty was able to build much more widely on his example.
Much has rightly been made of the Commonwealth and, as the noble Lord, Lord Alton, has just referred to, Her Majesty made her famous declaration in 1947 where she pledged her service. It is perhaps worth noting that what she pledged to serve was “our … imperial family”. At that time, on her 21st birthday, only four countries of the then empire—the old dominions—were de facto, if not technically de jure, independent, although India and Pakistan achieved dominion status very shortly thereafter. What we have since seen, as has been mentioned already, particularly by the noble Lord, Lord Addington, is a transformation utterly unique in history from an imperial family to a family of 56 independent nations in voluntary association not only with the former imperial power but with each other and their former imperial sovereign.
As during her reign the imperial power waned and eventually vanished altogether, together with the imperial idea, so Her Majesty’s moral stature rose in almost inverse proportion. That tells us something about the nature of true power and the strength of eternal human value. While some regimes may prefer grandiose display, Her Majesty very much had the common touch. Almost everyone she ever met, and many who she never met, from whatever station in life, instinctively felt that she was on their side.
For me and, I would hope, most of this nation, the self-deprecating, understated humour of the marmalade sandwich is surely the most powerful statement of human values, even if a subtle statement, that any monarch could ever make. Her whole life represented an effective answer to aggression and intolerance everywhere. I am sure that His Majesty the King will follow that example. Long live the King.
My Lords, I apologise for rising out of order—forgive me—and I also apologise for not being here yesterday, but I have read in Hansard so many moving speeches, and have heard so many today. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, said yesterday, it is difficult to know what to add. I simply want to pay my own tribute to a remarkable lady who I have known since I was quite young. I am old enough to remember watching from a balcony at Apsley House the passage of the Coronation procession.
My family have the honour and legal obligation of presenting a tricoloured flag to the sovereign at Windsor Castle on or before 18 June—Waterloo Day—in every year. It has therefore been my incredible privilege, on eight occasions since the death of my father, to present the flag to Her Majesty. The last time, in June, she was as alert, funny and informed as ever, so it was really a shock to me and my family that she died so suddenly on Thursday. I pay tribute to her incredible kindness, simplicity, humanity and humour, and her interest in everything. I feel so fortunate to have known her.
I was very struck yesterday to receive from the mayor of our local town in southern Spain a letter sending condolences to the Royal Family and the British people, in translation describing the Queen as a lady of global importance, not just for the United Kingdom but for the whole of Europe. This is from a village in the hills in Andalucía; her impact was indeed universal.
Her Majesty would have been so pleased to know that she was to be succeeded by someone with such qualities and interests as our new King. May she rest in peace—and we now say, as so many have, God save the King, and may he also have a long life.
My Lords, I have been trying to make sense of all this, as someone who never met Her late Majesty. My mother was seven years older than Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II, but when I lost my own personal life anchor, when my mother died, I felt that I still had Her Majesty the Queen.
Her late Majesty was the safest of a safe pair of hands. She was the most reliable of the people upon whom we relied; she was the greatest example of duty and dedication. I was concerned in recent years that the Queen could not possibly continue to the very end without having to abdicate as old age took its toll, yet she served to the very end—something that I feel sure she would have been very happy to achieve. Our Lord Jesus Christ is sometimes described as the servant king. Her late Majesty was surely the servant Queen. May she rest in peace.
The work of this House has been disrupted, normal life is interrupted, and all this feels very destabilising—but we have a new monarch and a new life anchor. If Liz Truss was anxious about having a difficult act to follow, spare a thought for His Royal Highness King Charles III. Our thoughts are with His Majesty and other members of the Royal Family at this time of loss and grief. In his address to the nation yesterday, His Majesty the King showed every sign that he can and will be our new source of stability during these turbulent times. Long may he reign.
What would my mother have said? Being of the same generation, I can hear Her late Majesty saying the same: “All very unfortunate, but you’ll just have to get on with it”. And we will, with God’s help, and the leadership of our King.
My Lords, it is a privilege to take part in this debate and I shall try to be brief: I have deleted things I was going to say that are already covered in the Hansard of either House, noble Lords will be relieved to know.
I shall start with Northern Ireland. There was, at the time I served there, a tradition that when a member of the Royal Family visited Northern Ireland, they should be accompanied by a Minister. Fast forward to 1997, when I was appointed s one of the Northern Ireland Office Ministers. We were having a ministerial meeting and we discovered that the first Northern Ireland Questions in the Commons after the election clashed with a Hillsborough garden party. There was some consternation until my boss, Mo Mowlam, pointed to me and said, “You’ll have to deal with it.” I was briefed for at least two hours the evening before on how I should deal with the garden party—in particular, how I should look after and escort the Queen. It was an interesting occasion.
At lunch, I sat on the Queen’s right and she was brilliant in her analysis of Northern Ireland politics and Northern Ireland politicians: I wish I had kept a record—though I am also glad I did not. It was like a seminar from her; she was on top of the issues, she had good judgments, which I cannot, of course, quote, and it was a total insight. I was utterly captivated. After lunch, I took her around the gardens, introducing her to people I did not know, which is an art form in itself. I had a filing cabinet in each pocket and I managed, but sometimes the people to whom I was introducing the Queen were in the wrong order. However, she handled it with absolute professionalism, so that when I was a bit flustered, she was not flustered. It was an absolutely remarkable occasion.
The week before that, the Queen wanted to meet the new junior Ministers in the 1997 Government, so we all went to Buckingham Palace. We were chatting to the Queen and at one point the conversation turned to the procedures for the Queen’s Speech. The Queen asked, referring to Members of the Commons, how they actually listen to the Queen’s Speech, to which the reply was that some come to the Bar of the House and others watch on television. Then I said something that perhaps I should not have said, but my tact disappeared. I said to the Queen, “Your Majesty, have you ever delivered a Queen’s Speech you didn’t agree with?” There was a deathly silence—my ministerial colleagues thought I was going to be out—and the Queen looked at me and said, “Yes, it has happened”, but I did not ask her to give me examples of the occasions on which it had happened.
More recently, Prince Charles, as he then was, and his wife came to the Irish centre in Hammersmith. It was a very jolly occasion, several months ago. There was music, dancing and so on, and the royal couple entered totally into the spirit of it. Then, of course, yesterday evening, we heard his brilliant speech—his brilliant and emotional tribute to his mother—and I thought that a man who can go from the previous occasion to that really can encompass the whole range of responsibilities that now befall him.
I turn very briefly to the visit to Ireland by the Queen in 2011, I think. I was not there, but it was an absolutely brilliant occasion and it made a difference for the better in the relationship between this country and Ireland. She did not put a foot wrong: she wore a green dress, spoke Gaelic and paid tribute to the Irish dead from 1916 and 1921. It was absolutely handled brilliantly.
I have just one other little anecdote. Some years ago, the Queen went to Bratislava where there was a commemoration of two events: the end of the Iron Curtain—after all, Bratislava was and is on the border with Austria—and the Kindertransport. The British embassy invited some of us who came to Britain on Kindertransport to go there. Schoolchildren were doing a project on the occasion and the Queen was there. We were lined up—bear in mind that I had already met the Queen several times in Northern Ireland—and she came down the line of Kindertransport people, came to me and said, “I didn’t know this about you.” It was quite disarming and very sweet. I was really impressed again, by her and the way she handled things.
Finally, I am a member of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. We have a WhatsApp group. I am getting a stream of tributes to the Queen from parliamentarians from various countries. They are very moving. Quite a lot are in French, which I will not read out, but I will read out one from a politician from one of the OSCE countries:
“The death of Queen Elizabeth has reached the whole world. She was appreciated, admired and respected for her loyalty, humility and sense of duty. No nation could have wished for a better monarch. Her reign left her mark in modern history.”
My Lords, I am delighted to join in these tributes to Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
I am afraid that my recollections will age me. Shortly after the Second World War, I served in a guard of honour for a visit by the then Princess Elizabeth to Armagh in Northern Ireland. I then recall the death of King George VI and Her Majesty’s immediate return from Kenya to the United Kingdom. I then recall the wonderful Coronation service in Westminster Abbey, when I saw television for the first time in my life, albeit in black and white.
At the beginning of this century, I had lunch with Her Majesty after the Maundy Thursday service in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh. As one living near the border between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, I am keen to develop respect within the island of Ireland and, especially, to encourage co-operation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 2011 visit to Dublin has been mentioned. It was very much a healing event in the island of Ireland, but the subject does not end there. I was especially impressed by the way she spoke some words in Irish—perhaps using more words than many members of the IRA can use. Likewise, as has been mentioned, I was impressed by her visiting the cemetery in which there are the bodies of some dead republican terrorists. One year later, I recall Her Majesty’s visit to shake hands with a former leader of the IRA in Northern Ireland, then acting as Deputy First Minister at Stormont. When she met Martin McGuinness, he said, “Your Majesty, how are you?”, to which she replied, “I am still alive.”
I must remind your Lordships that there remains unfinished work on the island of Ireland. There is still some extremism in both communities on that island. On Thursday evening, when the death of Her Majesty was announced, there was a football match on in Dublin. The crowd there celebrated her death and then sang an evil song, “Lizzie’s in a box”. That is the reality of life for some people on the island of Ireland. We must not get carried away. However, in contrast, I am glad to say that the Government of the Republic of Ireland have decided to fly the Irish flag at half-mast on all public buildings, so there has been progress on the island.
We all respect the service of Her Majesty to all parts of the United Kingdom and her strong Christian faith, but we now dedicate our loyalty to King Charles III. We trust that he will serve for many years the people of the United Kingdom—in Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland—and of the Commonwealth. God save the King.
My Lords, in wartime, life was grim, with sadness all around. There was no TV, but a radio, which I was told to sit and listen to for the main evening news. I know many parents tussled with whether they should send their children abroad, but many followed the example of the King and Queen and kept the family together here at home in England. I think that this devotion of the King inspired his daughter to understand the suffering of others by being among them.
As this cruel war churned on, I found great enjoyment from watching the two princesses’ activities. I joined the school Sea Rangers, although you could not live further away from the sea then I did. We learned to march, and I love marching. My earliest sight of the Queen was when she stood in an upper window as Princess Elizabeth with her sister beside her as we marched in wonder in front of Buckingham Palace. I watched the Queen as she grew into this lovely young woman we came to know and love.
The declaration that she made on her 21st birthday moved me enormously, as she dedicated her life to us and all the people of the Empire. It was made with such devotion and humility. I have often thought that she must, like any other, have had an off day, but that sense of duty always came through. She carried on and nobody was aware of how she felt.
Many years later, as I followed her ups and downs of family life, I marvelled at her strength. She and other women blazed the trail for women to hold the most senior roles in society in addition to family responsibilities.
In 2004, it was a huge honour for me to be appointed an extra Baroness-in-Waiting—a pinch-my-skin moment as I drove into Buckingham Palace. Having an audience with Her Majesty was such a privilege. She immediately put me at ease as we chatted and, to my amazement, I suddenly said, “Ma’am, may I share a secret with you?”. “Oh, yes please”, she said, “I love secrets.” And there it will remain between us. As the time came to an end, she wished me well and said that she hoped I would not spend too much time waiting for planes to arrive and depart.
I loved every trip I made to airports to welcome and see departing Heads of State on her behalf, and I shall always be grateful for the opportunity I had. Without fail, the visitors said that the time they were to spend or had spent with the Queen would be or had been the highlight of their visit.
These final months without the support of her dear husband, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, must have been more onerous and lonelier as she continued her busy schedule, having recovered from Covid. She has, throughout my life, been there with her dazzling smile, so much loved and respected throughout the world. She prepared us for her eldest son to become Charles III, and I am sure she would approve of us giving him a hearty welcome. God save the King!
My Lords, it is a privilege to take part in this debate. We all know the troubles that the late Queen lived through. I have a list of them but, in obedience to the Chief Whip, I will jump straight to my conclusion for the sake of brevity. She navigated such difficult waters with the skill of a diplomat and as a stateswoman of the first order. She exhibited all the qualities that we heard so brilliantly set out in last evening’s speech by our new King. She must have willed herself to stay alive long enough to ensure the transfer of power just last Monday from one Prime Minister to another, which leads me to conclude that little became her in this life like the leaving of it.
The president of the Methodist Conference, with whom I have spoken, highlights what for him were her qualities of excellence: her resilience and her patent faith. In his name as well as my own, I hope noble Lords will allow me to pay tribute to our late Queen on behalf of the people called Methodist.
She was patron of the Boys’ Brigade. I was its president for several years, until recently. Members of the brigade, young men and women, were frequently called to do duty as marshals and stewards at royal garden parties at Buckingham Palace or Holyroodhouse. Her messages to the brigade were always bright, encouraging and supportive. She graciously allowed us to hold our special occasions in premises we could never otherwise have dreamed of, including St James’s Palace, where we saw so many noble Lords looking resplendent this morning.
She invited me and a small party of young people to Balmoral at the time of her Diamond Jubilee, just a few days after her appearance with James Bond at the opening of the Olympic Games. We giggled and chortled as we recalled that incident. Her manner in putting our young people, who had been totally overwhelmed on arriving at Balmoral, at their ease was simply wonderful. She had a natural touch.
A song we love to sing in the Boys’ Brigade has a chorus that runs like this. I am terribly tempted to sing it, but I believe I may be out of order.
I feel there is a consensus:
“We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.”—[Applause.]
I paused precisely for that.
It is not difficult to pluck from that Boys’ Brigade song the words “steadfast and sure”, the brigade’s motto, because they describe our late patron’s character to a tee. On behalf of the leadership of the Boys’ Brigade, and in my own name, I pay tribute to our late patron for her faithfulness shown in the small tasks of everyday life as well as the grand ones that we have heard others talk about today.
Finally, I am so glad to be paying my tribute today rather than yesterday, because it allowed me, as it has all of us, to witness the remarkable, powerful, revealing, brilliant and moving address which King Charles III made last evening on television. He displayed all the qualities we so readily attribute to his late mother. I end by echoing a remark by Christopher Wren: if you want to define the late Queen’s legacy, look no further; you will see it in her son.
My Lords, we have lost a remarkable monarch. As I see it, there has been no one like our late Queen in the history not only of Britain but of the rest of the world.
As many of your Lordships know, I spent many years in the European Parliament and came across many Heads of State, although none as respected or as well informed as Her late Majesty. Of course, she built on a long tradition. My late grandmother, who was born during Queen Victoria’s reign, always held that Stanley Baldwin and George V were responsible for Britain being in the state that it was: they held it away from revolution because they understood the necessity of dealing with all the people and not being overidentified with any class or group. Her Majesty succeeded in that as well. One of the things that struck me first when the sad death was announced was that the trade union movement called off its strikes and very early the next day, the TUC called off its annual congress. We often forget that when the country faces tragedy and difficulty, it comes together, and it does so regardless of class. It is incumbent on this Government to remember that in the very difficult times ahead, when we are facing a major economic crisis that is not going to be easy to solve. There is no easy solution. However, our new King Charles is adequately briefed and will be good at the tasks that lie ahead of him.
I want to give just one anecdote about the Queen. She was not overkeen on the European Union, although she kept it well to herself. I was there for 25 years and for the first few, they were trying to persuade her to visit Strasbourg. It was only when she became the last Head of State not to have visited Strasbourg that she agreed to do so, and I must say that she carried off the visit with enormous panache and feeling. At one point during the visit we were all invited to meet her, and in order to make things easy—because of all the back-biting about precedence and so on—we were lined up alphabetically. Therefore, I met her very early on, and she whizzed down the line, saying, “Hello, good to meet you; you’re doing a good job”, until she got to the letter L and Alf Lomas, who was probably the most left-wing member of the British delegation and was the only one in the line who was not wearing a tie. She stopped, and it was obvious that they were having a great conversation, until she was virtually pulled away by her courtiers and whizzed down the rest of the line and off. At the end I went up to him and said, “Well, Alf, is she in the campaign group now?” He said, “No.” I said, “What on earth was it about?” He said, “Oh, I knew what to say, so I greeted her with the words, ‘Ma’am, we’re both racehorse owners, aren’t we?’” All she wanted to talk about was the horse he had a part share in, her horses and where they were stabled, what they were fed, how they chose which races they went into, and whether he always bet on his horses in the race. He said that in the end, they had to more or less tear her away.
That was typical of Her Majesty, who was very capable of relating to all her subjects without distinction as to how important or unimportant they were. I am not saying that Alf Lomas was unimportant; he had been leader of the group, but he was not exactly the British vice-president of Parliament or a committee chair. In fact, at that time he was the ex-leader of the group and very much in the doghouse with a certain Mr Kinnock—God bless his memory—who was the leader of the Labour Party at that time.
I believe that the new monarch will do an excellent job, and I have no difficulty at all in saying God save the King.
My Lords, it is impossible to do justice to such an amazing and astonishing person and such an amazing and astonishing life. I am also conscious of the hour, so I will keep my reflections light but give some memories from Scotland, Royal Deeside and Balmoral.
I was once the Member of Parliament for Balmoral, but my reflections go much further back and my memories start much earlier. I used to stand each year in the village of Bieldside, which is at the beginning of the journey up to Balmoral Castle, with my grandmother and mother. We knew this spot where the Queen’s car—one of the high-top cars with lots of glass—would slow down because the Queen knew there was a particularly beautiful garden there, and she would ask the driver to stop to have a look at it. We would stand there and she would give us her big smile, which has been mentioned a lot, and the kind of wave that I had never experienced before in my life as a young child.
We did that every year, until one year she slowed down and the beautiful garden had been completely removed and replaced with climbing frames and swings, because a young family had moved into the area. Sadly, her habit of slowing down stopped after that. She would continue on that journey up to the castle, and I think everyone knows just how much she was loved and respected in Ballater, Braemar and the village of Crathie. All the talk in my early years was about the possibility of bumping into the Queen or another member of the Royal Family in a shop or on a country walk, and just how important it was to respect them and allow them to have as close to a normal life as possible when they came, at this time of year, to Royal Deeside.
Fast-forward to the State Opening of the new Scottish Parliament, where I was one of the new Members. It is important to remember that the Queen played a very positive and central role in the early days of the Parliament and its establishment. After the ceremony, my two year-old daughter Mirrhyn was the first to go down the steps of the new Chamber and to sit on the Queen’s chair. We told her that it was a throne, but in truth it was the best-looking chair that parliamentary officials could find for that day.
When we went outside for the fly-past from Concorde and the Red Arrows, my daughter was still very excited by it all and insisted on knowing which of the dignitaries was the Queen. She was too young to recognise her, and nobody was wearing a crown that day. We said, “Can you see David up there in the Royal box—David who was feeding you crisps in our dining room the other week?” This David was Lord Steel of Aikwood, the new Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament. She said, “Yeah, I can see him, dad.” We told her, “Well, the Queen is the lady sitting next to David.” Of course, David liked this story a lot and dined out on it for quite some time. He even managed to tell the Queen the story. He confirmed that she laughed a lot when she heard it.
I saw the Queen at so many sombre occasions, very often in churches or at official ceremonies. I remember being quite nervous and intimidated when I was asked to be Minister in attendance at one of her Holyrood garden parties. My wife was standing in the tea and cucumber sandwiches tent with the Countess of Airlie, the Queen’s very good friend and one of her most senior ladies-in-waiting, when up to the two of them came the Earl of Airlie, who accidentally knocked my wife’s hat clean off. When this story was duly recounted to the Queen, she laughed out loud and gently scolded the Earl with the biggest of smiles. It was a different side—something lighter and closer to normality in a life less normal.
Of course, in this place it was the exact opposite. Here in front of us, the Queen’s Speech, the Crown, the orb, the sceptre, Black Rod marching on her no, through to summon the Members of Parliament—there is nothing normal in any of this; it is pomp and ceremony at its peak. However, even on these grand and sparkling occasions, there were insights. The Queen and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, were determined in their 90s to walk up the staircase from their ceremonial carriage to the Royal Gallery, under the glare of television cameras and completely unaided, and then into the Robing Room, which always looks so immaculate—except, you work out, when the Queen is there. All those tables and chairs from the Royal Gallery are piled high and it looks cluttered and chaotic, like backstage at a theatre.
Then there is that classic story about the Queen and Prince Philip leaving in the lift with Black Rod. He pressed the button to go down to the ceremonial carriages and instead the lift went up to the second floor. When the doors opened, there was a young lad with his paper cup of canteen coffee, waiting to step into a lift which he quickly realised contained Black Rod, Prince Philip and the Queen. I suspect that in the midst of Black Rod’s huge embarrassment, she was stifling mischievous laughter.
She was the quintessential Queen, unquestionably, the like of which we will never see again. Tomorrow, her journey through Bieldside will not be to Balmoral. Instead, she will go slowly in the opposite direction. Hundreds will stand there in sombre sadness but also in a show of their love. May she rest in peace.
My Lords, in our beloved Queen we have lost the mother of our nation and the mother of the Commonwealth. When we lose someone so reassuring and constantly present in our lives, we lose a part of ourselves, but in the words of Rabindranath Tagore:
“We should not say in grief that she is no more but say in thankfulness that she was.”
I say in thankfulness that she was.
I had the privilege of meeting Her Majesty on several occasions in my career. She was a constant in my life from my childhood. I was born in Kenya, where Her Majesty came as a Princess in 1952 and left as our Queen. I have vivid memories of the celebrations in Kenya for her Coronation, and of receiving a red mug with her image on it. Little did I know then that I would have the privilege of some very close and memorable encounters with Her Majesty, and that she would become an inspiration from whom I would learn so much just by observing her in action.
My first encounter with Her Majesty was in the late 1980s, when I was the director of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and she was its royal patron. Her Majesty graced NCVO’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and won over everyone with her formidable charisma, her infectious smile, her knowledge and her warmth. She left an indelible impression on me. Her Majesty’s support and service for the UK’s voluntary sector throughout her lifetime was phenomenal and she was much revered and loved by all in civil society.
My second encounter was when I was chair of the Royal Commonwealth Society, the oldest Commonwealth non-governmental organisation, in whose work Her Majesty took a personal and keen interest. In 2007, she opened the extension to the RCS’s premises. As we have heard, the Commonwealth was very close to her heart. It is no exaggeration to say that the Commonwealth has been held together by her personality. Her political skills, and belief in justice and democracy, helped create the modern Commonwealth. Her Majesty was far ahead of her time when, in 1953, she articulated a forward-looking vision of the Commonwealth and said:
“The Commonwealth bears no resemblance to the empires of the past. It is entirely a new conception, built on highest qualities of the spirit of man: friendship, loyalty and the desire for freedom and peace.”
I am sorry to say that seven decades on some people still do not comprehend that new conception. The genuineness with which Her Majesty related to the leaders of the Commonwealth, even in the face of the most extraordinary challenges, such as apartheid, speaks volumes about the success of the Commonwealth under her leadership.
When I was appointed inaugural chair of the Judicial Appointments Commission, to my great surprise I was invited to lunch with Her Majesty and Prince Philip. I was very nervous as I suspected that Her Majesty would be sizing me up to see who this person was who was selecting her judges. I need not have worried. It was like lunching with a grandmother. She was engaging and interesting and, amusingly, our initial conversation was, of course, about her corgis and what a menace foxes were in our respective gardens. During the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, I was involved in the river pageant and was amazed at the ability of Her Majesty and Prince Philip to endure pouring rain and their insistence on standing right through the journey down the river, again leading by example. In 2017, in opening the doors of Buckingham Palace to launch the UK/India year of culture for the British Council and allowing the projection of a peacock on to the face of the palace, Her Majesty displayed her generosity, graciousness and, above all, the force of soft power.
I am grateful that my last meeting with Her Majesty was on 23 February 2020, a few days before lockdown, when she visited Cumberland Lodge, an educational charity I chair. Her Majesty always took a keen interest in all our work and enjoyed interacting with young fellows attending our events. With quiet authority and subtle humour, she imparted her wisdom and gave encouragement, unstinting support and guidance to us in her role as our patron since 2003.
Over the past two days, we have heard heartfelt and moving tributes about the late Queen’s selfless service and about how steadfastly Her Majesty kept the promise she made 70 years ago and carried out her duties with humility, grace, dignity, wisdom, compassion and humour without putting a foot wrong. Time and again, Her Majesty showed her ability to capture the mood and significance of each occasion. She was the balm in difficult times, calming, uniting friend and foe and treating everyone equally. Her Majesty coped with difficult times with fortitude, repositioned the monarchy with skill and subtlety, managed change and yet maintained continuity. There is much we can learn from her. She will remain, for me, an extraordinary source of inspiration. The best way we can honour her memory is by emulating how she conducted herself and living by the values she cherished. As we have heard, King Charles III’s first address to the nation yesterday was deeply moving, but also comforting as it is clear that in him Her Majesty’s magnificent values will endure. I wish King Charles III great success as our monarch. Long live the King.
My Lords, we all share profound and deep sadness at the passing of the Her Majesty the Queen. We are indebted to her for her life of service, her dignity and her devotion to public duty. As we in this House treasure our personal memories, I remember my first meeting with Her late Majesty. I was 11 years old and I presented her with flowers in Westminster Abbey. Her warmth and smile on that day, to a little girl from Dorset in total awe of the occasion, is a memory I cherish.
Throughout her life, Her Majesty had profound love for and interest in the countryside and a deep commitment to farming communities across our great nation. As His Majesty the King was proclaimed today, our thoughts and prayers are with His Majesty, the Queen Consort and our beloved Royal Family. As a trustee of his countryside fund, I am privileged to see at first hand His Majesty the King’s deep commitment to our rural communities and farmers. His leadership on the natural environment and climate change have proved prescient. His vision of family farms, tenant farmers and rural communities fulfilling their role in creating a sustainable future for a thriving countryside that is there for everyone is without equal.
As we enter our Carolean age, we treasure Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s legacy and welcome His Majesty Charles III’s reign with sovereign constancy. His Majesty, with his wisdom and passion, cares so deeply for those without a voice. We flourished under our Queen, and we will flourish under our King. God save the King.
My Lords, I too welcome the opportunity to pay tribute to Her Majesty. My first memory is from when I was about five years old. There was no television in our house but a radio, and I can remember—probably on the Home Service, because I think there was nothing else—that there was silence and, every now and then, a rather sombre message: “The King has died”. My next memory of the Queen is of the coronation in 1953. I remember standing there with my elder sister, waving our flags; it was a great occasion. In my radical youth I was probably in favour of abolition, but as I got a bit older and thought about the alternatives, I abandoned that stance.
I met her twice. On one occasion I asked the equerry whether it would be okay to talk to her about apprenticeships and training. He said yes, of course it would. I would not go so far as to say that I was pleasantly surprised, but she was enthusiastic and understood the importance of training her staff. That was a good example of her attitude and approach.
I was a member of the Armed Forces pay review group, and we were returning from a visit to Iraq. For some reason the Queen’s plane was available and we were on it. We were being given first-class service by the steward, who was carrying his tray of canapés and delightful drinks. I asked him, “What’s it like when Her Majesty’s on board?” He said, “It is a bit tricky when six corgis are running up and down the gangway”. That struck me as an interesting situation.
I was employed in the GPO as a telecoms engineer—noble Lords may wonder what the connection is—and my boss at the time was the Postmaster-General, Tony Benn. He got it into his head that it would be a really good idea if he came up with a new stamp design that did not include the Queen’s head. Fortunately, the Queen had to approve every new issue of stamps, and I think I can say that when he met the Queen, she certainly was not amused—so that one did not get through.
I was struck by an article in the Times yesterday by Gerard Baker, a rather tough American writer. He concluded it by saying that we have lost a monarch but the world has lost a Queen, which I thought was a very nice tribute.
King Charles has a really hard act to follow, but I think we all agree that yesterday he made a very good start in both what he said and the way he said it. I have not always agreed with everything that King Charles has enthused about, shall we say, but one thing that gains my admiration—there is more than one—is the Prince’s Trust, which does such good work in getting young people into employment. I wish him every success for the future. Given the start he made yesterday, I am sure he will live up to that challenge.
My Lords, like the noble Baroness, Lady Seccombe, I had the privilege of serving as an extra Lord in Waiting to Her late Majesty the Queen, since 1997, with particular responsibility for meeting and greeting Heads of State from Africa. I was also in South Africa in 1995 at the time of Her Majesty the Queen’s state visit at the invitation of President Nelson Mandela. She enjoyed a warm friendship with Nelson Mandela. Amusingly, they were on first name terms with each other from the time they first met.
She got the nickname in South Africa of “Motlalepula”, which means the African queen rainmaker, because her visit coincided with a long drought in Natal: literally the day that she arrived, the heavens opened and they had wonderful rainfall. She had fond memories of South Africa, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Alton of Liverpool. I was fortunate enough to have had a very close relationship with Nelson Mandela, otherwise known as Madiba, who held Her Majesty as well as Princess Diana in the highest esteem. Both Her Majesty and Madiba shared the same sense of duty, and both had a wicked sense of humour.
My last memory of Her late Majesty was that she made everyone feel at ease. When I first met her, I had an acute stutter and was at a loss for words as to how to greet her, but she immediately made me feel at ease. Her tireless devotion to others for 70 years, dealing with state and personal difficulties with calmness, dignity and diligence until her last day, was remarkable.
The noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, said yesterday that Her Majesty placed duty first, second and third; I totally agree. She was the glue that kept us all together, and she was the most remarkable example of soft power. The noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, rightly said yesterday that she never put a foot wrong. It was remarkable how well briefed she was on every subject, as was her amazing memory for events gone by. Quite apart from her remarkable work as a monarch, as many noble Lords have mentioned, she had the distinction of being the founder and head of the modern Commonwealth, where she commanded enormous respect from all over the world. She was the most remarkable role model.
Our thoughts and prayers at this time go out to the members of the Royal Family. God save the King.
My Lords, there are very rare moments in life when the passing of one person touches so many hearts and brings the entire world together. The passing of Her Majesty the Queen is one such moment. For me, it is a difficult task to add to the eloquent tributes that have gone before me and those that will come after. I am humbled to have an opportunity to commemorate Her late Majesty’s excellent and unrivalled record of decades of dutiful, loyal and noble service.
For me personally, I was privileged to serve in Her Majesty’s Royal Household as a Lord in Waiting from 2013 to 2016. It was and remains the greatest honour of my life. I could not believe that a refugee from Uganda such as I would be asked to join the Royal Household. The invitation reflected the inclusivity and integrity of our great country. In that role of Lord in Waiting, I represented Her Majesty during the repatriation of President Sata’s body to Zambia, alongside the Countess of Wessex, and attended his funeral. What I did was only a fraction of the work the Queen did day in, day out, and I got a slight insight into the pressure of the job. I was also overwhelmed by receiving a number of Heads of State on her behalf. The welcome she gave and the humility she showed to those Heads of State are to be admired.
The 21,000 engagements that Her Majesty undertook are testament to her sheer dedication to public service. She must have met thousands and thousands of people, but I will never forget the moment I met her, when she demonstrated the unique ability to make you feel special. She took a keen interest in we Ugandan Asians who emigrated to this country in the 1970s, most of whom were already her subjects.
I will forever remain grateful that I got the opportunity to thank her for all that she did for Ugandan Asians. At a time just before the expulsion, Her Majesty articulated the highest level of diplomacy when responding to Idi Amin’s invitation to visit Uganda in 1972. Despite knowing his dictatorship, she deliberately signed her letter to Amin from “Your good friend, Elizabeth R.” She did so because she knew that British lives could be at risk if Amin felt he was being snubbed. Had it not been for her conscious efforts, thousands like me would not be here today.
Her Majesty’s affiliation with Uganda continued throughout her reign. She visited Uganda three times. The first occasion was a sad one, Her Majesty making a stopover on her way back from Kenya in 1952, alighting briefly from a Dakota aircraft at Entebbe Airport after news came of her father’s death. The second was two years later when, on a state visit, she opened the hydroelectric dam at the source of the Nile. The third time was in 2007 when she officiated at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Uganda, there meeting the newly democratically elected President of Uganda, President Museveni, who has always referred to the Queen as his “sister”.
She would have sent regards to President Museveni, who was scheduled to come to the UK yesterday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the expulsion of Ugandan Asians and to attend the UK-Uganda convention, but this visit was cancelled out of respect following Her Majesty’s demise. The message that I received from President Museveni of Uganda yesterday is that the people of Uganda are “mourning with you”.
As many in this House have mentioned, Her Majesty also had a great sense of humour, on which I would like to end. According to Lord Mountbatten, she jokingly threatened to hit Amin with her ceremonial sword if he tried to gate-crash the 1977 Silver Jubilee. He did not.
These stories must be taken with a pinch of salt, but they show—I think, in my own humility—the great and determined spirit of this monarch, she whom the earth shall soon receive as its honoured guest. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the newly proclaimed King Charles III for the enormous task ahead but, for now, Her Majesty’s memory is our keepsake, with which we will never part. God has you in his keeping as we have you in our hearts. Long live the King.
My Lords, like other Members of the House, I thank Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for her service to our United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Honour, duty and the service of Her Majesty have been spoken of movingly over these two days of tributes. I thought the Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition set the tone wonderfully with their beautiful speeches yesterday.
When I go to an education centre or visit a school, I am usually asked, “Have you met the Queen?” I have to say that no, I have not; but I have had the enormous privilege and honour of being a Member of this House, being here at State Openings and watching Her Majesty’s addresses from the Throne. It is a real privilege that all Members have had.
We all know of Her Majesty’s love of horses and horse-racing. We have seen the joy on her face when she has had a winner at a meeting she was attending. We have also seen her attend many other sporting events. What many in the House may not know is that Her Majesty’s first football match was on 9 April 1945 as the young Princess Elizabeth, in her service uniform. It was the Football League War Cup South Final. The match was Millwall v Chelsea and, surprisingly, my team Millwall lost 2-0. Millwall was playing in blue and white, having been founded by Scotsmen who had come down from the east of Scotland to work in the docks.
We know of Her Majesty’s love of Scotland, her United Kingdom and our brotherhood of nations. One of her legacies that we need to work to ensure is that the United Kingdom remains united.
I endorse the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, who is in her place, and my noble friend Lady McIntosh of Hudnall about Her Majesty’s support for the arts. She, along with her husband Prince Philip, took great interest in the campaign led by Sam Wanamaker to raise funds to build a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe, close to the original site at Bankside in Southwark. It was to the great joy of everyone involved in the campaign—I was involved to some extent—that Her Majesty opened the replica theatre on 12 June 1997.
My heritage is Irish: I am second-generation Irish, born to Irish parents here in London nearly 60 years ago. I have a great love of Ireland and everything Irish. The noble Baroness, Lady Coussins, and my noble friend Lord Anderson of Swansea, among others, recalled in their speeches Her Majesty’s state visit to Ireland which was, as we all know, a tremendous success. It was the first visit to the Irish Republic by a reigning monarch since 1911, when it was of course part of the United Kingdom. She visited several significant sites, including Croke Park. As we have heard, a few opening words of her address at the state banquet were in Gaelic. It was a memorable visit: a truly great success of a great monarch and diplomat, recognising our countries’ shared history—some of it difficult, but moving forward together in partnership.
I also recall the television pictures of Her Majesty shaking hands with the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness, in June 2012. I remember the smiles and thinking, “What progress has been made!” It was an historic event in itself that would have been unimaginable some years earlier.
We are all so fortunate to have lived during the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, a remarkable woman and our greatest monarch. Her legacy lives on and we should honour her by doing everything we can to ensure that it endures.
My Lords, it is a great pleasure to be able to follow the impressive and interesting tribute by the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark. Indeed, after hearing so many excellent tributes by so many noble Lords, it is difficult to find something new or interesting to say which has not already been said. I had hesitated to put my name down to make a tribute, but then I thought it was actually my duty to make a contribution.
After all, I am proud to have been involved in three organisations of which Her late Majesty was the titular head. She was colonel-in-chief of the Royal Green Jackets, air commodore-in-chief of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and patron of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund. At first hand, I have seen how seriously she took her responsibilities for these organisations and how genuine was her interest in all of them. She made everyone involved in them feel better all the time and, of course, did the same for so many other organisations.
As my noble friend the Lord Privy Seal said in his moving tribute yesterday, no one ever questioned her work ethic. Her devotion to duty was absolute and never faltered throughout her long reign. She made all those who were fortunate enough to cross her path feel better about the world and themselves. She was always a calming influence.
The British people are sentimental about animals and very many love dogs, as did the Queen. My late mother-in-law was lucky enough to come to own two of the legendary “dorgis”, Lockett and Whitty. They were faithful companions during the final years of her life. The Queen’s qualities of loyalty and faithfulness had rubbed off on the dogs she bred.
Her knowledge and expertise in breeding dogs was exceeded only by her prowess as a breeder of horses. My noble friend Lord Shrewsbury and others have spoken of her expertise in equine matters. Many of your Lordships will have seen the pure joy that seeing a horse that she had bred win on the racecourse brought her. I was glad to hear Nicky Henderson speak of that on the radio this morning.
Although we have known that her reign would not go on for ever, the depth of her presence in the life of our nation was such that, at the same time, we did not believe that it would not continue for just a bit longer. We almost came to believe that she was immortal. Now that we have lost her, we realise even more how much we valued her. The whole nation is deeply saddened and shaken by the huge significance of the ending of the second Elizabethan age. Multitudes of people around the world, citizens of her realms, of Commonwealth countries and of other lands, whose regard for this country has ever been strengthened by their admiration for its monarch, similarly mourn her passing.
The thousands of people thronging out of Green Park station yesterday led me to walk with them across the park up to Buckingham Palace, to experience how they were thinking and to marvel at the deep affection in which they held our late Queen. How lucky we are to have a constitutional monarchy, which provides a higher power with which we can all identify, irrespective of background, politics and other differences. An elected president with a limited term can never serve as a symbol of the ultimate unity of the nation and its people.
All of us who sit in your Lordships’ House are privileged to be able to pay tribute to our wonderful, late and great Queen and to offer our sincere condolences to His Majesty the King and the other members of the Royal Family, as they turn the page and a new chapter in our nation’s story begins. May she rest in peace. God save the King.
My Lords, Her Majesty bequeaths to our country and people continuity, certainty and the strengths embedded in the timeless traditions of our constitutional monarchy. She has been our country’s chief and greatest diplomat, smoothing the path for politicians and officials with charm, wisdom, grace and memorable humour. Her Majesty imbued a lifetime of service and deep consideration with unwavering appreciation to her realms and territories, to the countries of the Commonwealth and far beyond, carrying her values, her profound sense of duty and her love.
As we enter this extended period of mourning heavy with grief, there is, however, a silver lining evident beyond the clouds, the most significant being her heir, our King. I venture with humility that the tribute that we offer to Her Majesty is to thank her for her tireless dedication and to work to ensure that her legacy endures for centuries to come.
In doing so I pay tribute to the King’s already formidable achievements. His honed skills with well-respected guidance on climate change, organic farming, the built environment and multi-faith issues—often ahead of his time—are always useful and relevant. However, particular attention must be given to assuring the continuity of our United Kingdom by listening and learning, and that the legacy of the Commonwealth evolves and modernises to ensure its continued relevance and place in the world. The King shares that resolve, I believe, by promoting the dignity of all peoples and beliefs, respect for their cultures and heritage, support for those less privileged and dialogue for greater understanding of seemingly intractable problems.
A new monarch, a new Government, a united people, an appropriate place in the world and the opportunity of a new beginning for a renewed United Kingdom—that is a good place to be. God save the King and the Queen Consort.
My Lords, as we have heard from all the excellent tributes that have been made, Her late Majesty’s dedication and commitment to public service cannot be met by anyone else. However, her service was not just to public and government institutions but to civil society, which is such an important part of our free and democratic life.
Her late Majesty was rightly respected for her almost complete avoidance of party-political controversy during her long reign. As I remarked in the debate to mark the Platinum Jubilee, this was all the more remarkable given that she is from a trade unionist background. Her mother and father were honorary bummarees—porters at Smithfield meat market—and therefore members of my union, the Transport and General Workers’ Union, now called Unite. When I mentioned this fact to a noble friend recently, they asked whether Their late Majesties had kept up their membership. I must admit that, to avoid any change of heart, we gave them free life membership.
In a changing world, Her late Majesty has been a reassuring, constant presence, the likes of which we may never see again. As my noble friend Lady Smith said yesterday, she has been a bridge from one era to another, connecting different generations through decades. In 1952, Britain was a vastly different place from the country we live in today—a nation emerging from the ravages of a world war, with rationing still in place. Today, as my noble friend Lord Alli remarked yesterday, we are a much more diverse and vibrant country, being home to people from across the globe. We are also a nation that focuses more on equality. Opportunities for women have been transformed, although there is still a lot more to do. In 1952, I could not have married my husband—in fact, I would have been at risk of arrest and prosecution just for being who I am.
As our country changed, so did the Queen. She adapted and modernised the monarchy in ways that meant that even many republicans expressed personal admiration and affection for her. The Queen was the personal embodiment of the nation and a huge asset to us all. As so many noble Lords have remarked, she was instantly recognisable across the globe and met almost every significant world leader of the past 70 years.
Politicians come and go, and some are more loved than others, but to maintain Her late Majesty’s levels of respect and popularity over seven decades took a real talent. We have learned much from her, not only from her sense of duty and devotion to public service but from her strong work ethic, her love of country and Commonwealth, and her sense of humour—all qualities that I know she has passed on to His Majesty King Charles III.
Although we mourn her passing, we should also celebrate Her Majesty’s sense of duty, community and selflessness in serving others. Let us recognise that her life represented all that is positive about our public life and institutions.
My Lords, I will always treasure the privilege of having enjoyed many discussions with Her late Majesty about her enthusiasm for sport—never restricted to equine events but they were never far away. From my first meeting with her, over tea at Royal Ascot when I was Minister for Sport back in the 1980s, to her memorable involvement not just in the opening ceremony but throughout the years leading up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games 10 years ago, every conversation was an insight into her love of sport. In horseracing, as we have heard, she had a truly encyclopaedic memory for equine breeding and bloodlines. She was also equally interested in the recollections she could share of great sporting events that she attended. All were moments of great joy to her. No surprise, then, that she is the only person in history to have declared open two Olympic Games.
I was to learn that, for her, sport was a beacon of hope for communities. Sport gave her a unique vista from which to share and celebrate an enthusiasm that was so central to the life of her husband and so key to the many sporting successes and achievements of members of her family. Her late Majesty was both a mother and grandmother to Olympic athletes, and many members of her family have been involved in Olympic sports both domestically and internationally.
I believe that it was the joy that sport generated within her family that led her to recognise, build upon and empathise with the belief that she shared with countless hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. This showed in the genuine enthusiasm with which she celebrated the achievements of athletes and the coming together of like-minded nations in a way that nothing else could. Her late Majesty recognised that sport was underpinned by a trio of timeless and essential values: excellence, respect and friendship—values that she embedded in her remarkable approach to life. Only genuinely held values can be reciprocated in kind. The reaction from the world of sport, governing bodies and international federations of sport around the globe have echoed their appreciation of that genuine passion, including the International Olympic Committee and the British Olympic Association, of which she was patron.
The late Queen witnessed the value of sport in small African villages and communities on every continent, and she recognised that sport was far more than elite competition. For her, sport for all was the connecting thread that binds together and unifies the fundamental principles of non-discrimination, universality, tolerance and solidarity, which were the building blocks of her relationships with everyone she met.
As many noble Lords have said, Her late Majesty’s close association with the Commonwealth, particularly the Commonwealth Games, of which she was patron, most reflected her understanding of love and love of sport, and its power to form bonds of communication and instinctive affection. To Her late Majesty, the Commonwealth Games confirmed a lifelong commitment to people who recognised that, despite their religious, political and legal differences, the Games were and could be a catalyst for good—welcome proof that so many members of the Commonwealth family could meet in friendly rivalry and competition and, from the world of sport, create lasting friendships across borders and nation states, which can find their genesis in sport. That affection was reciprocated in full.
Since then, every Commonwealth Games has become a trademark opportunity for Her late Majesty to demonstrate her passion for uniting communities and doing what she could to build a world of seamless affection, respect and admiration. In late July 1966, only a few days before she presented football’s World Cup trophy to the England captain Bobby Moore after the final at Wembley, she stepped out into the courtyard at Buckingham Palace to place a message for Jamaica into a specially designed baton, and she fully engaged with those Games.
But horses were her great love. Here in Parliament, preparations for the day of one memorable State Opening of Parliament had to take into account the need for the carriage horses and an Ascot landau, which is one of the five carriages kept in the Royal Mews, to be at Ascot for the royal procession. The dates looked set to clash in the royal diary. The royal carriages and horses set to bring Her late Majesty to Parliament were also needed to take her down the straight mile that afternoon, and they could not make it in time. There was little doubt about which venue took priority that day. The horses relished the Royal Ascot mile, and I am sure that they were not alone.
This communality of sport provided the British public with one of the many means of showing their respect, affection and love for Her late Majesty. She understood the power of so many different sports, not least country sports, and their power to transcend social boundaries, to develop a common language that forms strong binds across societal divides, to reach out and to connect. She so genuinely understood these values, and by embracing them the world of sport is united in a sense of loss, gratitude and respect. God save the King.
My Lords, one of the downsides of being one of the youngest Peers on these Benches is that you are expected to go last. It is a privilege to pay tribute to Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. I would like to make two points, one general and one personal.
When we talk about public duty, we barely do the phrase justice when associated with Her Majesty the Queen. I recently watched that documentary again made about the Queen, telling the story through her lens, and I was struck by one of the phrases that she used when she spoke about public duty. She said that public service is sacrifice. My Lords and Ladies, what service and what sacrifice she has given us. We in both Chambers could take a leaf out of her book when it comes to selfless service; it is not about us and our often inflated egos, but about what we do in public service.
On a personal note, like some other noble Lords here, I would imagine, I had my day at the Palace. Almost three years ago to the day, I was knighted. When you go in, you do not know who is going to knight you, and I was nervous already. When I knew it was the Queen, I was as nervous as nervous could be. Most people out there only see the Queen on TV or on our banknotes, and there she was in front of me, in real life. She sensed my nervousness, leaned forward and made me feel extremely comfortable. She began chatting, and we were even joking at one point. My son in the audience was craning his neck like a giraffe and looking around, saying, “That’s my dad.” When I came out, I came round to him and he came to me enthusiastically and said, “Dad, you made the Queen laugh. What did you say?” I leaned back and said, “Son, it’s a secret.” It was a special day for me and for all of us. May Her late Majesty rest in deserved peace, and God save and good luck to the King.
My Lords, I know that we all share a sense of gratitude that we are given the opportunity, as Members of your Lordships’ House, to pay tribute to Her late Majesty the Queen and to welcome King Charles III. I share that luck, and I want to share also one or two of the messages that I have received from all over the world and ask why so many people should write. The prince of the Yazidis has sent a note, saying: “We all grieve in your loss and we wish you perseverance in the face of this irreparable loss.” We have a message from the deputy head of the council of representatives of Ukraine. In the middle of a ferocious war, he finds the time to say, “We miss your Queen.” In fact, he put it more powerfully than that. He said, “We bow to your Queen.” That is Mykhailo Laba of the Ukrainian house of representatives, in the middle of war.
I think it is because Her late Majesty represented the goodness of our public life. That, I think, is the heart of the matter. I found that she had a tremendous capacity for stilling conflict. Some of your Lordships may recall a time not so long ago when we were in ferocious conflict, not just in this House but in the other place, and we received a message saying to come round to Buckingham Palace. We were split into two different groups, because there were far too many of us with both Houses. But the ferocity between us was so great, even in the parties themselves, that people refused to share black cabs—and when you refuse to share a black cab with a colleague, that really is a serious business. I recall well that we went up the steps in Buckingham Palace very slowly, with people not speaking to each other. When we got to the top, we were ushered into one or two of the big rooms. We were still highly hostile. I simply cannot remember the cause. Maybe it was one of those awful moments when we were fighting over whether there should be a general election. It was something as profound as that.
Quite suddenly, and totally quietly, the Queen, unaccompanied, entered the room, just by the doorway. She was almost invisible. She turned to the first person on her left, a man who was extremely angry, and just asked him how he was. He lost his nerve completely. The anger dissipated, and the black cloud over his head disappeared. As that happened, she turned to the next person and the next, and I promise you that, in about three or four minutes flat, we were all friends again. We waited, and the Queen came round to every person in that room and then went on to the next room and did the same. We all came back here in a completely different frame of mind. She had this extraordinary capacity for being the still, calm voice in the middle of the war, as it were. Perhaps that is why so many millions of people around the globe have expressed utter misery at her loss.
I can find no better way of describing her than a Shakespeare comment in “Henry VIII”. Forgive me, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but at that moment Shakespeare used the word “England” to encompass our sceptred isle:
“She shall be, to the happiness of England,
An aged princess; many days shall see her,
and yet no day without a deed to crown it.”
Is that not Her Majesty the Queen? Every single day for 70 years, and earlier than that, she did one piece of good if not more.
I have had the good fortune of working quite closely with, serving and supporting King Charles, and he is exactly the same. Alongside Her Majesty and his father, with their great good deeds, King Charles has done more unheralded—and sometimes criticised—than you could possibly believe. I am sure that is exactly Her late Majesty’s message. How fortunate we are to be able to say how much we loved her, how much we miss her and how much we will enforce her good deeds through supporting her son King Charles III.
My Lords, I join all noble Lords across this House in offering my sincere condolences to the King, Queen Consort and all the Royal Family. When I was walking back yesterday evening, I noticed that all the bus stops had a photograph of the Queen where the advertisements normally are. As I walked past one, I heard a woman behind me say, “We could all learn a lot from her”, and her friend replied, “Yes, she was a class act.” She certainly was, and that embodies the spirit of what everyone in this Chamber has been saying over the last couple of days.
I should like to pay tribute as president of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust by sharing with noble Lords the strong interest of the late Queen and the wider Royal Family in native rare breeds. We have heard that Her late Majesty was incredibly knowledgeable about horses and she was a very experienced breeder. Her extensive breeding programmes made hugely important contributions to the survival of a number of our rare and native breeds, including highland and Shetland ponies at the Balmoral estate, fell ponies at Hampton Court and Cleveland bays as part of the carriage breeding programme at Hampton Court.
A number of breed societies have benefited greatly from her patronage, including the Fell Pony Breeders Association, the Highland Pony Society, the Cleveland Bay Horse Society and the Shire Horse Society. Her late Majesty kept fell ponies as a girl and enjoyed riding her native breed ponies. Only four years ago, aged 92, she was photographed riding one. I am sure we can all recall the beautiful photograph of our late Queen holding the reins of her two favourite fell ponies to mark her 96th birthday earlier this year.
The Queen’s work and actions on behalf of rare and native breeds are far too many to mention, but I would like to pick out one particular highlight. She was absolutely instrumental in saving the Cleveland bay horse breed in the 1960s. When she bought one of the few remaining stallions, she sparked a renewal of interest in the breed, which desperately needed help. The breed went from strength to strength. At the royal farms, Her Majesty also kept a variety of native cattle breeds, including highlands at the Balmoral estate and Jersey and Sussex cattle at Windsor.
All this is part of our Royal Family’s wider interest in native animals. The Queen Mother kept Orpington hens, Princess Anne keeps Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs as well as her own Orpington hens, and the Rare Breed Survival Trust has long been honoured by the patronage and wonderful support of His Majesty King Charles III, under his former title of the Prince of Wales. I hope I may have encouraged some noble Lords to look at keeping some rare breeds.
Our late Queen’s very practical, dedicated and immensely valued contribution to the survival of our native breeds is another example of her life of service to our country. We will always be immeasurably grateful for this service, her generosity and the remarkable legacy in this area that she leaves for the generations to come. Rest in peace.
My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Stephen, who spoke earlier, I live on what is often known as Royal Deeside. I know from a very brief journey home only yesterday that my deep sense of sadness at the death of the Queen is one shared by the entire Aberdeenshire community, rural and urban—a community of which the Royal Family is very much a part.
A deep loss is felt not only by those of us in the United Kingdom but, as other noble Lords have referred to, by others internationally. As an example, I will take one nation of the Commonwealth that the Queen was aware I knew well, and whose royal family I remain close to: Tonga. I know from personal messages the deep sense of sadness that its people feel. The late Queen was extremely fond of Tonga and its people; she kept in touch with the Royal Family and took a keen interest in the fortunes of that country.
On a personal note, as a former Army officer, I felt deeply proud that Her Majesty the Queen took the salute at my commissioning parade in 1963. I had the lucky honour to be an officer in the Queen’s Bodyguard for Scotland, the Royal Company of Archers, and to have participated in many royal duties in front of Her late Majesty, not least the unique Golden and Diamond Jubilee garden parties held at Balmoral. I thank God for a life lived to the full, for Her late Majesty’s deep and guiding faith, wisdom, sense of duty and steadfastness, and for the abiding inspiration that she has been to us all. May she rest in peace. God save the King.
My Lords, in death, as she did throughout her long life, Her Majesty the Queen is present in every aspect of our daily lives: on buses that say, “Thank you, Ma’am”, at their destinations; on billboards emblazoned with her regal image; and on social media, which is flooded with people changing their picture to a sketch of the Queen with Paddington Bear. As so many noble Lords have said, we are shocked by how deeply we have been affected. It is difficult to explain how the loss of a person you may or may never have met can have such a profound effect, but perhaps it is because we lost not only the person but that part of our lives that we thought was constant and safe, no matter what.
As a vice-president of Liberal Judaism, I want to express our deep gratitude for an exceptional life that was unfailingly devoted to the service of her people and every community in her realm. In their grief and sorrow, we wish a long life to His Majesty King Charles III and all the Royal Family.
Every week, in synagogues across the UK and the Commonwealth, Jews pray for the welfare of the Royal Family and all those who influence the quality of our national life. We have prayed for our sovereign lady, Queen Elizabeth—who has never fallen short—for 70 years, and this week, for the first time, we prayed for our sovereign, King Charles. That is continuity, and that is change.
This week, a special prayer written by our president was recited at Liberal synagogues throughout the country. I would like to share some of these words with noble Lords today:
“During the 70 years of her reign, during which she saw many upheavals and changes, she served her people with enduring devotion and grace, uniting races, creeds and tongues with outstretched hand and cheerful countenance … In times of turmoil and distress, she sought comfort from her faith and led by example, speaking truth, abiding by her oath of majesty, accepting the discipline of her sovereignty and serving God with humility and intent. She worked with abiding and conscientious duty for the good of all her people, overcoming her own trials and tribulations to unite us as one humanity, whose purpose it is to do God’s will for the good of all people … May her reign remain an example to guide King Charles with integrity and truth, promoting freedom, justice and righteousness, so that all may be blessed with prosperity and peace. We pray for the health and well-being of the new King.”
May her memory be for a blessing. Long live the King.
My Lords, it is a great privilege to be able to take part in this tribute today. As the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, pointed out, everything that could be said has probably been said already by far greater people than me, but she has been my Queen all my life and I, possibly selfishly, do not want to leave this life myself without paying tribute to the greatest sovereign of all time.
I was born in May 1953, two weeks before the Coronation, and, like the vast majority of British people, I have known no other sovereign. As others have said, we knew this day was coming, but an irrational part of us wanted to think that with her extraordinary vitality she could somehow avoid the mortality of ordinary people. She seemed to me to be indestructible, and I was left shocked and speechless on Thursday.
I first took an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty as an officer cadet 60 years ago, and I think I have taken it about 12 times since then in the other place and in this noble House. From the first one as a junior soldier and then my parliamentary and Privy Council oaths, I always considered it not just a sacred duty but a source of pride.
I am afraid that I have no funny stories to tell about Her late Majesty, just that I was in terror after Privy Council meetings, when she always had an informal chat about the issues, and I was afraid she would ask me something about the obscure and complex order that we had passed and I would not have a clue about it.
Her late Majesty has rightly been described in this place and elsewhere as the rock or anchor of our democracy and constitution, and the words used again and again over the past two days describe her life as duty, selflessness, fortitude, service, humility, love, kindness, resilience, humour, fun, courage, faith and consistency. Some of us may aspire to some of those characteristics, but she embodied all of them.
Not only do I believe that those qualities come from the childhood teachings of the late Queen Mother and her father, George VI, but I credit a lot of it to her military service, since these are the same qualities that we see in our military. I suspect that her devotion to all things military and her colonel-in-chief roles were not done just because it was expected, but because she loved the military life and the military family, where she felt at home.
I know that in 1957 she said,
“I cannot lead you into battle”,
but I am certain that if she were a 20 year-old today, she would not settle to be an Army truck mechanic, important though that was at the time, but she would be a front-line soldier like Princes William and Harry and demand to serve in battle zones, probably in the cavalry, of course.
It was an extraordinary achievement for a young woman in 1952 to become the Head of State of the greatest democracy and constitutional monarchy in the world. For over 70 years as Head of State, she has never put a foot wrong, nor said a wrong word, while operating under one of the most complex, unwritten, convention-based constitutions of any country, and, right to the end, she fulfilled one of her most vital constitutional duties on Tuesday by appointing a new Prime Minister.
We can all cite a handful of US Presidents as possibly being great, but can anyone cite any country in the world whose presidential system has provided better Heads of State than our late sovereign, Queen Elizabeth? I speculate that if these political presidents had served more than their four or eight year and gone on for 10, 20, 50, or 70 years, they might not have been regarded as so great by the end of their period. In these days when political promises are regarded rather cynically, Her late Majesty was revered because she made a promise as a 21 year-old that,
“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service”,
and she kept that promise faithfully for every day of the next 75 years.
Having watched that magnificent and brilliant speech of our new King last night and at the Accession Council this morning, I will be as proud tonight to take that oath of allegiance as a subject of King Charles III as I was to take it 60 years ago to Queen Elizabeth II. His Majesty has long been a hero of mine, ever since I saw him in the full-dress uniform of the Colonel-in-Chief of the Gordon Highlanders, a uniform I was pleased to wear, but merely as a junior officer in the 51st Highland Volunteers. There is no one better qualified to continue the onerous task of our Head of State. His experience extends across the whole range of our national life and the difficulties facing us here in the United Kingdom and the world. As Tony Juniper, the head of Natural England, has said, King Charles is “possibly the most significant” environmental figure of all time. As the new Carolean era begins, I wish Her late Majesty eternal rest in peace alongside her rock, His late Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. God save the King.
My Lords, it is a sad privilege to stand up and address the Chamber as we come towards the end of this tribute. I start by paying respect to the wonderful way in which the Lord Privy Seal opened the debate, followed by my noble friend Lady Smith, the noble Lord, Lord Newby, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, who set the tone for the whole debate. I do not want to repeat all the various comments that have been made about the service that the Queen has undertaken through her long reign; that can be read in Hansard at great length. I shall just highlight one or two things before making a general comment about why the Queen was and is held in such high regard.
The first thing is her acquaintance with the military, as we saw with her service during the war, but also her long commitment to the Armed Forces, as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Stirrup, will know as well as anybody. She always championed the veterans and our Armed Forces at great length through the whole of her life, which is of huge significance and speaks to the whole nation.
I also want to refer, as did the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, my noble friend Lord Kennedy and others, to the work she did with respect to Ireland. The noble Lord, Lord Caine, will know better than anybody about what she did and the work he did around that time in Belfast. It is easy to say, as the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, will know, “Wasn’t it fantastic that our Queen went to Ireland, went to Dublin and then went to Belfast?”, but just think, as the noble Lord, Lord Caine, will know, about the controversy that arose at the time and the hostility she received. The leadership and courage that she had to show to do that should be recognised by all of us.
That was an example of how, time and again, she did not always take the popular route; she sometimes took the route that was necessary for the greater good. Just think of her going to Dublin, not just wearing green and speaking in Gaelic, but visiting the memorial for those who were killed in the Easter 1916 rising. It is unbelievable that a British monarch should be welcomed to do that. Then she went to Belfast. The noble Lord, Lord Caine, was at the Lyric Theatre, I believe, when she shook the hand of Martin McGuinness. Unbelievable. She got hostility in Belfast for doing that, but she did it in the cause of peace and reconciliation and the belief that she had to use the authority of her office to move that on.
That is the nature of the person we had as our monarch, and that is why it is so important for us to give voice to all that in this tribute and in the tributes over the last two days here and in the other place. It is not repetition when people speak of their own experiences. It is not an unnecessary thing to do. It is an important statement of something that is important to our public life, both now and in the past.
I will say why I think the Queen has been so revered and why her loss is so shocking, but also something about what we should learn from her to inspire us for the future and what her legacy to us should be. The big thing about the Queen is the values she lived and stood for. People have heard me say this time and again, but some of those values, of family, community, patriotism, country and individual responsibility, are almost regarded as out of fashion and somehow irrelevant to the modern age, not something that we should all adhere to and teach our children but which we should leave out from our schools and that our country should not champion any more—that we should not say to the rest of the world, “This is what we are proud of about our country.” We had a monarch who symbolised all those values and principles. Because of that, she spoke to the inner core of the British people, the people of the Commonwealth and beyond. That is why people are so saddened and shocked, because they do not want to see those values die with her.
For me, and I think for our Parliament and us as representatives—whatever that means within a democracy—our legacy to her should be to say, “Ma’am, we’re going to take that forward and ensure we fight for it as well.” That is what the country is looking for in its leadership. Instead of division, people want harmony. That, Ma’am, should be our legacy and our epitaph to you.
My Lords, I think the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, spoke for us all when he pointed to the moral courage our late sovereign showed.
When I debated with myself about whether I would speak in these tributes to Her late Majesty the Queen, I found that I had an absolutely overwhelming desire to say thank you for her life of service, and her dedication to the welfare of the United Kingdom and to the well-being of its inhabitants. There have been many outstanding contributions. Given the hour, I will not fall into the habit of insisting on repeating all these sentiments myself, but I must say that I agree with what this House feels about the contribution the Queen made to our national life and destiny.
The Queen brought good cheer—one of her characteristics. I am old enough to have known another sovereign. I was 12 when the Queen ascended to the throne. Britain was a pretty grey place. Something lifted. First of all, we saw the wonderful dress she wore, which was made with an incalculable number of pearls that came from various parts of what was then still the empire to be sewn into it. From this rather grey world we began to see something that was rather lovely and cheery. She was very beautiful. It was a great occasion. My family, like many in the United Kingdom, bought its first television set to watch the proceedings. So she started with a tremendous show, which I think greatly improved the morale and general happiness of our society.
The other thing I want to say about the way she behaved over all these years is that she was a tremendous force for inclusion in our society. Little people mattered to her—that was widely and instinctively understood and much appreciated by the general public. Very ordinary people have been saying these very complimentary things about her, and are spontaneously repaying the compliment by covering the boundaries of Buckingham Palace, Balmoral and the grass of Green Park with a carpet of flowers. I do not know whether noble Lords have seen them on the television; it is extraordinary.
We also witnessed something else. Not only did people see that the Queen represented us collectively, which they much appreciated, but many in this society felt they had an individual connection with her. They did not know her in the conventional sense, but she connected with us, and put a lot of effort into doing so. One should not imagine that this is somehow a gift handed to you—you have to work at it. It is hard work to make connections, but she most certainly did. That is one of the reasons why she was also so effective in the Commonwealth. People understood that she had thought about them and the situation, and here was the contribution she was willing to make.
Many Members of the House have recounted stories of personal encounters with the Queen. I am not among those who could claim to have known her, though I did meet her. On one occasion, there was a private sitting at which I was present—a birthday party where we were both guests. It was held in the London aquarium. As she arrived, the Queen looked round at the colourful goldfish in the tanks near the entrance. “I haven’t been here before”, she said. I happened to be standing just near her, and said “Your Majesty, when you get much further into this place, you will find that it contains a lot of sharks.” “Oh”, she said, “How like real life”.
I will make just one more point. Like most Members of the House, I watched His Majesty the King speak last night, when he made his own public tribute to his mother and talked to us about his future role. He made some very perceptive comments and important commitments on how he would seek to act. Some Members have said they think the Queen will be a hard act to follow. I am sure that that is right, but I thought that our new monarch had all the empathy that will be needed for him to be an extraordinary, commanding presence in the country and that he will communicate with us as effectively as his mother. God save the King.
My Lords, what else is there to say after so many heartfelt, excellent and eloquent tributes both in this Chamber and beyond? Upon her passing, as ever in life, our late Queen brings out the best in us, inspiring us to be our better selves and to fulfil our duty, despite the turbulence around us. Her departure has stopped time, as we mark the end of an era, and united the world as leaders around it pay their respects, whether friend or foe. We will never see anyone like her again and we will miss her desperately.
Many have remarked on how important her faith was in all she did. As a follower of Jesus, I would go further and say she was a steadfast believer, not just because she would go to services, or because she was the head of our established Church, but because she genuinely believed in Christ, in the promise of eternal life for those who put their hope in Him and in His Lordship—Christ at whose feet it has been said she longed to cast her crown when they finally met. Because He died for her and for us, laying down His life as a servant king for us, forgiving us our sins, so too she felt she could devote her life to serving us as a servant Queen, bringing reconciliation where it was needed.
Our late Queen knew that, even if she might not be able to change things directly, constrained by the constitution and a watching media, God could intervene divinely, just as He did for one of her ancestors, Queen Victoria. Their and their heirs’ prayers have protected these isles—I believe miraculously—from invasion, collapse and whatever crises we have faced. We would do well to follow their example, crying out to our Lord to heal this land and meet us in our time of need.
As someone of Chinese descent and one of the few Peers of east Asian descent in this Chamber, I also want to pay tribute to our great Queen for being such a friend to those of us who are originally from those parts. From Hong Kong to Tokyo, she graced many countries with her presence, meeting ordinary people and leaders, many of whom she also met back in Britain over the years. I only met her once myself briefly at an event, although it made the deepest impression on me. Even in China, she was recently praised in the news as someone who they admired for her
“unwavering loyalty to her country and her Faith.”
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said admiringly of her this week:
“She had a strong belief in the cause of human freedom and left great legacies of dignity. Her kind heart and good deeds will remain in our memories.”
Kindness, duty, faith, family and working hard—values admired by many in Asia and which our Queen displayed, often silently and without fanfare, making her the best ambassador and diplomat we could have hoped for across these last two tumultuous centuries.
Indeed, the Queen has been in her long life a sure and steady bridge from our past into the future: an anchor to our past that was not afraid to travel into the future. As we head into winter, she would have wanted us to be courageous: to be, in her own words, a people of hope who help others, neither forgetting our past nor being unwilling to face whatever the future brings, changing not for change’s sake but for the good of the nation and for the preservation of all that is good about Britain. Ma’am, thank you for everything, and God save the King.
As an immigrant, I would like to pay tribute to Her Majesty The Queen. We all share this grief; we feel that we knew her, that she was part of our life and that we have lost a member of our own family. She was held in such affection.
I have lived under her reign for nearly half a century. Her legacy is such that she was the most famous person in the world and the most dedicated public servant for over 70 years. She was a global icon. She carried out her public duties with the utmost grace and elegance, yet she was never remote from her subjects. She has been the nation’s figurehead throughout some of history’s darkest and most joyous moments, our constant in a world of perpetual change. It is with immense gratitude and sorrow that we bid her farewell with enduring respect and affection.
I am one of those fortunate people who received a royal honour on several occasions, and every time I met the Queen she would always have something to say and to ask—she was very curious to find out how her subjects led their lives and what kind of business they did. I found her the epitome of grace and kindness. She always had her famous and infectious smile while greeting people, no matter how small or big. Even now, if you think of Her Majesty The Queen, her beautiful face and smile will come to your mind.
I thank her for her service, dedication, commitment, and sincerity to the nation and the Commonwealth. She was deeply connected with the people of the Commonwealth and was the Queen of every faith. She travelled to so many countries and received affection wherever she went. I have seen children bringing hand-picked flowers to present to our gracious Queen.
She gave us immense security while she was in Buckingham Palace; we could all sleep with peace, knowing that Her Majesty was looking after us. She provided us with safety and security. She will be immensely missed, and our world will be for ever changed. We will miss her pageantry, her walkabouts and her greeting ordinary people: she would come out of her way to touch people and to make them feel special. May Her Majesty rest in peace in heaven. God save the King.
My Lords, I first spoke to Her late Majesty the Queen in June 1986, when I was 18. I was at a drinks party in the Major-General’s office at Horse Guards after the Beating Retreat ceremony. I was there as the plus one for my grandfather, the late noble and gallant Lord Harding of Petherton. I was the youngest in the room by several decades, and I was extremely nervous. As the Queen approached, my grandfather elbowed me in the ribs and whispered, “Ask her who’s going to win the Derby tomorrow”. When I did, everything changed. Her whole face lit up and, for the next few minutes, I was not an awkward, nervous teenager talking to the Queen, I was an enthusiastic, young, amateur jockey talking to quite possibly racing’s biggest fan. It was the year that the hot favourite, Dancing Brave, was beaten by Shahrastani. Not only did she put me at my ease, she also tipped the winner.
Although her duty always came first and foremost in her life, there is no doubt that racing, horses and all things equestrian were a lifelong passion. In fact, I would say that she exemplified the very modern concept of work/life balance: 70 years of service as our Queen; 73 years of hopes and dreams as a racehorse owner and breeder. Racing is the second-most attended sport in the country and, as a steward of the Jockey Club, I know that across the country people in the industry and racing fans mourn the loss of not just our cherished Queen but a fellow fan.
She was immensely knowledgeable, as other noble Lords have said, especially about breeding and bloodlines. Her care for the welfare of all animals, but especially her horses, has shown the way for all of us in the sport, and her unbridled joy when her horses won, there for all to see, brought joy to all of us as well. In her 73 years as an owner and breeder, she had more than 1,000 winners.
Her best season ever was last year and, right to the end, she was still role modelling the life of the working mother, finding time for work, family and her lifelong hobby. On Tuesday, not only did she gather her strength to bid farewell to her 14th Prime Minister and appoint her 15th, she also took time in the morning to discuss tactics with the trainer of her horse Love Affairs, which was running at Goodwood in the afternoon. On Tuesday evening, after Love Affairs had won, I am told on good authority that she was cheerfully reliving the win with racing friends and planning the horse’s next run. Her last ever runner, Improvise, crossed the finishing line at Epsom on Thursday at 4.35 pm, just after the Prime Minister had been informed of the Queen’s passing. The Queen knew more than most that racehorses do not always follow the plan. Improvise was beaten by a short head, overtaken in the final stride.
I am sure the whole of the racing world joins me in sending condolences to the King and the whole of the Royal Family at this very sad time. Ma’am, I am sure I speak for everyone in the sport you loved so much, and also all the working mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers across the land trying to find that elusive work/life balance, when I say thank you: thank you for your extraordinary service, for living your life to the full and for showing us the way. May you rest in peace, and God save the King.
My Lords, the Royal Family mourn the loss of a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. We mourn the loss of a much-loved monarch. Our thoughts are with her family, and indeed all her loyal staff in the Royal Household, as they bid their final farewell.
To me, what summed up Her late Majesty in one word was example—she led by example. To me and generations of women she has been a shining example of devotion, duty and service. I have been proud to take an oath of allegiance to the Her late Majesty in three separate institutions: the Faculty of Advocates, in the other place and in your Lordships’ House. During the course of the last two days of tributes, we have heard the breadth of influence and of the leadership Her late Majesty represented in our everyday lives.
We had the great good fortune to welcome Her late Majesty on many occasions to North Yorkshire, most notably to the Great Yorkshire Show and, for one year only, Royal Ascot at York, reflecting her interest and passion for the countryside and, as we have heard, for racing and horses.
I am proud of my Danish heritage and the special closeness between the United Kingdom and Denmark, marked by the fact that Her Majesty the Queen of Denmark attended the Duke of Edinburgh’s memorial and has interrupted her own Golden Jubilee celebrations this week in respect for the passing of Her late Majesty. How poignant that Dronning Margrethe, the Queen of Denmark, is now the longest-serving reigning monarch. My late mother taught me a Danish prayer, which ends with the words, “Guds engel os bevare”. May God’s angels protect Her late Majesty. May her eternal light shine on her family and her immediate successor, King Charles III. Long may he reign.
My Lords, I join millions of people in the country and all over the world in expressing my sorrow and pain at the passing of our great monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Our late Queen was an extraordinary and remarkable lady who ruled us with dignity, wisdom and good humour during our good and bad times over a period of seven decades. Her late Majesty provided unbiased counsel to 15 British Prime Ministers from the two major political parties and worked harmoniously with more than 150 Prime Ministers from different parts of the Commonwealth during her reign. May God bless her soul.
At the age of 21, when our late Queen was a princess, she gave us a defining pledge by saying:
“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service”.
Our late Queen was indeed a lady of vision, and she totally fulfilled her extraordinary promise.
I was born in Kenya. In 1952, the Queen visited that country when she was a princess. She was staying at a marvellous lodge called Treetops when she was informed that her father, King George VI, had passed away. One has to go up steps to get into the lodge. I have stayed at Treetops, and the manager of the lodge lovingly said to me that the princess went up the steps to get into Treetops and walked down as the Queen.
I was brought up in Uganda, which the Queen visited in 1954 to open the Owen Falls Dam. My father met the Queen when she was in Uganda. In our lounge we had a picture of the Queen and a picture of my father with the Queen; I was brought up looking at pictures of the Queen in our house.
Lady Sheikh and I met the Queen on two occasions organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat. Her late Majesty was totally dedicated to the advancement and well-being of the Commonwealth, and her outstanding leadership of it is one of her crowning glories. When she became Queen there were eight members of the Commonwealth; over the years this has grown to 56. She is held in great esteem and respected by the members of the Commonwealth. Some of them have declared days of mourning on her demise.
I am very much involved in charitable work. It has been said that the Queen sprinkled numerous charities with gold dust. She did indeed assist charitable causes, and this came to her naturally. She was a patron of more than 600 charities, and it has been said that she helped to raise more than £1.5 billion for charitable causes. There are numerous deserving people who are thankful to the Queen for all the humanitarian work she has undertaken.
I have visited a number of countries in different parts of the world and have met many prominent persons, many of whom have sent messages of condolence to me. I noted the comments yesterday on the BBC of His Royal Highness, Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, whom I have met. I also received an email earlier yesterday from the Jordanian ambassador, his excellency Mr Manar Dabbas, expressing his condolences.
Her Majesty was Queen to all faiths, beliefs, ethnicities and identities. We recall fondly how in 2002, during her Golden Jubilee tour, she took time to visit a gurdwara in Leicester and a mosque in Scunthorpe. She asked the worshippers in the mosque the direction of Mecca, and gladly received a copy of the Holy Koran in English translation, which is kept in the royal archives at Windsor Castle. Her Majesty’s visit to the mosque was very well received, as it had previously been targeted by extremists.
In the mosque where I prayed yesterday, prayers were said for Her late Majesty. I was deeply moved, as I am sure others were, by the historic speech made by King Charles III to an audience of millions around the world, in which he paid tribute to his mother and made the point that the late Queen’s life was well lived. He also made a promise of long service to the people as King. It was a very well-crafted speech, delivered with sincerity and passion. We are all sure that King Charles will fulfil his pledge to the world, just as his mother did.
God save the King.
My Lords, like many of your Lordships 1 was moved in ways I did not entirely expect by yesterday’s Front-Bench contributions and the contributions of many others, and by the fact that one of the words we have heard most frequently in connection with Her Majesty is “duty”. I have one duty to discharge and one reminiscence to share.
Like many noble Lords, I once served in an organisation bestowed with the title “royal”: in my case, the Royal Hong Kong Police. Her late Majesty bestowed that title in 1969 after the Hong Kong Police, as it was then known, had endured a very difficult few years, stoically and steadfastly doing its duty. We took great pride in that title and, on taking office as police officers, were privileged to swear an oath of loyalty to Her late Majesty. On behalf of all the men and women with whom I served and those before and after—Hong Kong Chinese, British, and from the broader Commonwealth—it is a privilege to pay tribute to our late Queen, thank her for what she did for us and send our sincere condolences to His Majesty the King and the rest of her family.
I met Her late Majesty only once, at an investiture, and I am proud to say that I was able to make her laugh. I will not tell you the joke I told her, but I mention it because one of my best friends was with me on that occasion, and he happens to be American. He did not meet the Queen, but he still says that that was one of the best days of his life. I know that he feels a sense of personal loss, as do we all, but that captures the essence of Her late Majesty. She touched people in so many ways, but often just by her very presence. She epitomised “majesty” in the truest sense of the word. It is perhaps a difficult thing to define, but I think we know what it means. Through her majesty, she reminded us all that honour, service and—that word again— duty are not redundant concepts, as the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, just noted. I have a strong suspicion that I will never achieve majesty, but I will strive to achieve those other qualities with renewed vigour.
Thank you for that, Ma’am. Thank you for everything. May you rest in peace. And God save the King.
My Lords, I rise to give a brief reflection and tribute to our late beloved Queen, the mother of our nation. As the Lord Privy Seal and Leader of this House, my noble friend Lord True, so movingly said in his tribute yesterday, she is the literal embodiment of our United Kingdom, our exemplar of dignity, civility and service, but above all of humanity and humility. I believe I have the dubious honour to have been the last Member of this House to have sworn an oath of allegiance to Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It is not an honour that sits easily with me. However, I will endeavour to fulfil my duty to serve her successors, as we all in your Lordships’ House will do for our King, in the same way that Her late Majesty served us all.
The Queen’s Speech and her address to the nation, the Commonwealth and indeed the world, transcended national boundaries, cultures and continents. As my noble friend Lord Moynihan told us, tributes have been flooding in from all over the globe, particularly from those involved in one of her great loves, sport. A graphic example of this is the several messages that I have received in the past 24 hours. For the sake of brevity, I shall read just one, which is from the president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, Mr Luc Tardif, who said, “It is with immense sadness and regret that we have learned of the passing of Her Majesty the Queen. All of us are deeply saddened by these events and hope that Her Majesty has found eternal peace. Our thoughts are with you all, and we wish you the courage and strength to overcome these difficult times. Queen Elizabeth, a person who embodied the core values of sport, those of fair play and respect, will always be remembered. Please accept the deepest condolences from the world’s ice hockey family”. Her Majesty was not only our Queen, and that is a fitting tribute for a Queen beloved by the world; she was a Queen for everyone, in every place, and for all generations. No one alive will ever forget her, particularly if they had the privilege of meeting her. Her reign spanned across the ages and across all ages.
As a noble Lord said yesterday, we have been fortunate to have lived in a truly great Elizabethan age. Throughout her reign Queen Elizabeth II was undeniably the most famous woman—I would argue person—in a genuinely globalised world. Queen Elizabeth became a British icon, a woman of her time, manifest on stamps and, of course, our currency, featuring on the cover of TIME magazine in 1929 at the age of just three, and making countless other appearances in popular culture, be it in cartoons, on record covers, in television series and films, or—how can we forget?—in skits with such diverse figures as James Bond and Paddington Bear; I always wondered what Her late Majesty carried in her handbag.
But she never seemed overwhelmed by her own symbolism. She knew the power of paradox—of being accessible but somehow remaining discreet. In particular, she grasped the public mood, not seeking public approval but getting it in spades. She touched so many people’s lives, whether she met them in person or not. No one could call our late Queen ordinary but she was, above all, human, which is maybe what made her so special. As a daughter, sister, aunt, wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, she upheld and asserted her family values throughout her reign.
Above all, I should like to thank Queen Elizabeth II, our late Queen, for her years of unquestioning service and devotion. This nation will be forever grateful that she served us, as we in your Lordships’ House served her and will serve her successors. I send my sincere condolences to the King and his family, who have lost a mother, aunt, grandmother and great-grandmother. Long live the King.
My Lords, I simply rise to say, on behalf of my family, “Thank you” to our dear, departed Queen Elizabeth II for always being there, the one constant in our lives. Our thoughts and our prayers go to your family at this very sad time. We wish King Charles III a long and happy reign. Rest in peace, Your Majesty. God bless the King.
My Lords, I had the privilege and pleasure during my Army career to have audiences with Her Majesty the Queen. When I became Chief Inspector of Prisons, those audiences continued. What was very impressive was the Queen’s knowledge about our prisons. May she rest in peace. God save the King.
My Lords, the desire to express love and affection for Her Majesty has been exemplified right to the end of these tributes. I must apologise to the House: because of various duties that I have had to perform, I have not been able to be present as much as I would have liked for the tributes, though I have followed them on the monitor and looked at Hansard. I will comment on that in a moment.
The duties that I have had to perform have led me to various well-known buildings in London which I am not normally accustomed to visiting. I can certainly report to your Lordships who have been immured here in this building that, when one goes there, one sees the extraordinary gathering of the crowds and the people of all places, all natures and all types coming to express their devotion to Her Majesty and their loyalty and affection to our new King.
I am not here as Leader of the House to mark your Lordships as if it were some kind of song contest. All I would say is that I believe that this House has conducted these two days of tributes extraordinarily well and has done so with dignity, courtesy and—something that I value—a spirit of unity. I believe all those things would have pleased Her late Majesty enormously.
Before I formally move the humble Address and conclude these proceedings, I also want to pay tribute to the staff of your Lordships’ House. Over the last 48 hours they have displayed qualities of dedication and a sense of duty that also would have pleased Her late Majesty. They always do so, but they have gone more than the extra mile. There are a huge number of people involved in the operation to get and keep this House sitting. This is in fact an unusual Saturday sitting, but one loses the sense of what day of the week it is.
People have been working 24 hours a day—see how quickly the gate was dismantled outside—planning, co-ordinating events and transforming the building. Frankly, I think the Lady Usher of the Black Rod has been working 25 hours a day. All involved have displayed extraordinary commitment, skill and professionalism. They now have to continue to prepare the House for the momentous days ahead next week, when the eyes of the world will be upon this building. I hope we will all help them in carrying out those duties. I know I speak for the whole House when I thank the staff for their work and wish them well in completing it.
Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Motion for an Humble Address
That an Humble Address be presented to His Majesty to convey to His Majesty the deep sympathy felt by this House in the grief His Majesty has sustained by the death of our late beloved Queen, His Majesty’s Mother, of blessed and glorious memory;
To extend to all the Royal Family the deep sympathy of this House in their grief, which is shared by all its Members;
To assure His Majesty that the example of selfless public service which our late Sovereign displayed over Her reign of 70 years, Her untiring endeavours for the welfare of Her peoples and Her fortitude in adversity will ever be held in reverent, affectionate, and grateful remembrance; and
To express to His Majesty our loyalty to His Majesty’s Royal Person, and our firm conviction that, under the blessing of Divine Providence, His Majesty will, throughout His Reign, further the happiness and protect the liberties of all His peoples in all His Realms.
My Lords, we have all now had an opportunity to offer our tributes to Her late Majesty, so we come to the formal business of agreeing an Humble Address expressing the House’s collective sympathy and loyalty to His Majesty. I beg to move.
Motion agreed nemine dissentiente.
My Lords, I join my noble friend the Lord Privy Seal in thanking all the staff of this House for the tireless efforts that they have made almost round the clock for the last nearly 48 hours; I have almost lost track of time.
We will be taking oaths shortly, and I urge as many noble Lords as possible to take the oath this evening. To assist the House, I suggest that we start with the government Front Bench and file round in an anti-clockwise direction. My noble friend Lady Stedman-Scott will lead the way so we all know what we are doing—she is the first volunteer so I thought I would let her do it—and then the flow should be very easy. It will be a lot easier than usual because there will not be any signing to do; we simply swear the oath, and around we file. I will now adjourn the House for 10 minutes to allow the Table to be prepared for the taking of oaths.
Oaths and Affirmations
Several noble Lords took the oath or made the solemn affirmation.
House adjourned at 7.29 pm.