Every Member of Parliament knows that the question you are most often asked, and particularly when visiting primary schools, is ‘have you met The Queen.’ I am proud to be able to say that I did briefly on two occasions, when despite having hundreds of people presented to her, she still sparkled for each of them, ensuring it would be a moment they would remember for the rest of their lives. For seventy years, Queen Elizabeth II was the focal point of our national life, and the bond that united her peoples at home and around the world.
On Tuesday, The Queen performed her final public duty when she appointed Liz Truss as our new Prime Minister; the fifteenth holder of that office during her reign. On Thursday afternoon at her beloved Scottish home, Balmoral, she peacefully took her leave of the great responsibility she has carried throughout her long reign. Death is an inevitable part of life, but so constant and true a figure had The Queen been to our nation, it seemed impossible to believe the day would come when she was no longer there. Now in her passing and the celebration of her life we have a true appreciation of how much we looked to The Queen for her example of selfless and unwavering duty.
Queen Elizabeth II has played a great and unique role in the modern history of this country. She has been Head of State during a period of great change. When she succeeded her father, King George VI in 1952, few people had telephones or televisions in their homes. Now many people will have received the news of her death from smart devices held in the palm of their hand. At the beginning of her reign, The Queen benefited from the advice and political counsel of her first Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, and in her final years could guide the recent holders of the office based on her decades of experience. She had also met every American President since Dwight D Eisenhower as well as world leading figures from every continent,
For those of us born during her reign, we must now become accustomed to the unfamiliar anthem, ‘God Save The King’, and in pledging our allegiance to His Majesty King Charles III, we do so knowing in addition to his own great qualities, he has lived alongside the experience and wisdom of The Queen. We remember in our prayers as well, at this time of national mourning, the grief of the Royal Family who have also lost a beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.