Tag Archives: Queen Elizabeth II

William Wallace: Social change during the Queen’s Reign

Next in our series of tributes to the Queen from Lib Dem parliamentarians is from William Wallace. He has a unique perspective. Like Mary Reid, he remembers the death of her father and as a Westminster Abbey chorister sang when his coffin arrived in Westminster Hall and at the Queen’s coronation. He talks about the social change that the Queen helped along during her reign.

My Lords, I am conscious that admitting that I can remember the monarchy before Queen Elizabeth is to admit that I am well over the average age, even in this House. My first image of the monarchy was, indeed, of the Queen’s grandmother, Queen Mary, who used to come to listen to sermons in Westminster Abbey whenever a particularly radical canon, Canon Marriott, was preaching the social gospel—something which would now be considered far too left-wing for any current bishop to talk about. I learned a little more when, as a junior chorister, I sang when the coffin of George VI arrived at Westminster Hall for the lying-in-state, and rather more about the symbolic importance of the monarchy when, as a more senior chorister, I sang at the Coronation.

People have talked a lot about how much the country has changed since then. When I think back to that period, it is astonishing what sort of change we have been through. As I walked past the abbey this morning, I remembered that it was black in 1952, covered in soot. Outside, a gallery had been built for people to watch from over a bomb site, which is now the Queen Elizabeth II Centre. Inside, nearly a thousand Peers were in the north transept, in their full robes and with their coronets, and nearly a thousand Peeresses were in the south transept. In a few months’ time, when the ballot for perhaps 100 of us who wish to attend the next Coronation arrives, we should remember that social deference has ended and the social order in this country is different from what it was then.

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Joan Walmsley: The Queen was on my side and your side

The next in our series of tributes to the Queen from our parliamentarians comes from Joan Walmsley.

My Lords, I shall say a few words from these Benches on behalf of myself and my co-deputy leader, my noble friend Lord Dholakia, who is unable to be with us today.

Her late Majesty, like many women, was thrown into a difficult role at a time when she least expected it, yet, like many women, she pulled herself together despite her grief and got on with her job—or her calling, as she saw it. She did it in her own way, as I am sure our new King, King Charles, will also do, adapting her approach as appropriate over the years. As the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, just said, she managed to achieve a balance between consistency and flexibility, and she did it with grace, charm, dignity and dedication. She was at the heart of her family and the nation, and supported us all in good times and in bad. We will miss her among us, as she has so often been.

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Brian Paddick: The servant Queen

We are publishing tributes to the Queen from Liberal Democrat parliamentarians across the UK in the run-up to her funeral tomorrow. This is from Brian Paddick.

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.

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Jane Dodds: She was a stateswoman like no other

Jane Dodds paid tribute to the Queen in the Senedd.

The text is below:

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Christine Jardine: The Queen shared our thoughts, our memories and our pain

Our parliamentarians paid tribute to The Queen in debates held last weekend. Here is Christine Jardine’s speech:

The text, from Hansard, is below:

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It has been a week like no other

The queue is more than four miles long with waiting times of nine hours as I write. Nothing like this has happened in my lifetime. Certainly, it has been a week like no other like no other in living memory. Perhaps like no other. The sudden and dramatic death of Princess Diana created an unprecedented outpouring of grief and astonishing scenes in the capital as crowds flocked to be in London. To camp in the parks. To put flowers on the trees. But it does not match what is happening in London today.

The arrangements after the death of Queen Elizabeth II were well rehearsed. Like many deaths it was not unexpected but the timing was unknown. Her last duties as Mary Reid said earlier, were to accept the resignation of the outgoing prime minister, Boris Johnson and the incoming prime minister, Liz Truss. Perhaps we will never know Her Majesty’s views on the prime ministers she agreed could the lead country, or those leaders from around the world she must have met with gritted teeth behind the famous smile.

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Christine Jardine: The Queen brought reassurance and hope in our darkest times

Christine Jardine used her Scotsman column to pay tribute to the Queen and to describe the atmosphere in Parliament as the news came that the Queen’s health was causing concern.

When the Speaker rose to convey the confirmatory announcement from Buckingham Palace, the feeling in the chamber was like nothing I have ever known or could have predicted.

This was a moment that we all in that place, indeed everyone in the country must have known could not be far off and yet somehow it was a shock.

The immediate priority was focusing on the resumed debate in an attempt to hold back the tears that were threatening to fall.

But the rest of the day was a haze of speculation, changed plans and simply watching and waiting for what was fast becoming the inevitable.

When the news came, it was family that was at the forefront of her mind:

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The transfer of power

I am not a historian nor a constitutional expert but I was always a bit smug about the way the transfer of power happens in the UK. The evidence from the USA demonstrates that even in long established democracies the handover period can be fraught with danger. In comparison the changes from one Prime Minister to another, and from one Monarch to another, seem pretty seamless here.

The events of the last week have shown me that the processes are not as seamless as I had imagined. On Tuesday, for a short period between the visits of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, full constitutional power lay in the hands of the Queen. We were dependent on her acting in the interests of democracy and the country, which of course she did. Two days later we realised just how risky that short period had been. Although unlikely, malign interventions, or indeed death, could have thrown the process into unplanned chaos.

And then we lost her. Charles was immediately hailed as King and we all assumed that the powers that come with monarchy had transitioned smoothly at that point. But in fact there was an awkward wait until the Accession Council on Saturday, which showed that was not the case.  In Part 1 of the meeting the Council proclaimed Charles as King, without him present – this was the acceptance of him as King by the people. In Part 2, the King held his first Council during which he had to assent to a long list of Orders of Council put to him by the Lord President of the Privy Council, and then take an oath to formally recognise the status of the Church of Scotland.

Is there anyone still alive today who attended the last Accession Council in 1952, or even remembers what it was about? It was held in private and probably did not register in the minds of most citizens at the time. For some historians it has always been a matter of deep interest, but I imagine most of us were simply unaware of its complexities and risks.

Maybe you all knew that already and I am just showing my ignorance. But I think not, as judged by the many comments on social media deploring the ban on political activity until after the Queen’s funeral. At first I too thought it was excessively restrictive, and I fussed about the piles of undelivered Focusses sitting in my home and the dilemmas for people fighting by-elections this week, not to mention the cancellation of Conference. I too thought it was all about showing respect for Queen Elizabeth during a period of mourning, and I sympathised with the view that she would have wanted democratic practices to continue. But the events on Saturday were a revelation and changed my mind.

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Dick Newby: The Queen championed community, generosity, kindness and service to others

The next in our series of tributes to the Queen comes from our Leader in the Lords, Dick Newby. He talked of her serenity in times of trauma and the values of

My Lords, it is only a matter of weeks since your Lordships’ House met to pay tribute to the Queen on the occasion of her Platinum Jubilee. On that occasion, we knew that the Queen was already in frail health, but nobody contemplated that her reign had such a short period ahead of it. Because the Queen is the only monarch most people have known and was a permanent, reassuring presence in a challenging and rapidly changing world, her death has clearly come to millions as a great shock. For all but the oldest among us, a hitherto ever-present feature of British life has been removed and a deep sense of loss is felt not just by my generation, but by many of our children and grandchildren, for whom one might have thought that the Queen was a distant and possibly irrelevant figure.

What was the basis of this universal appeal? I suggest that it is because she demonstrated qualities that appeal across and down the ages. She was constant. As the world changed, as Prime Ministers and Presidents came and went, she exuded a sense of serenity and calm and, in times of national trauma and tragedy, a sense that these difficulties were surmountable, that they should be met with fortitude and that they would pass. She was unwavering in her commitment to the service of the nation and to her duty to represent its traditions and values, but she was sensitive to changing times, realising that the monarchy too had to change—had to be more open, more accessible and more accountable for everything it did. She was empathetic. For someone whose daily life was as different as it is possible to be from that of the vast majority of her subjects, she had an ability to communicate with them as individuals, to put them at ease and to make them feel truly special.

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Alistair Carmichael recounts being told off by the Queen over horse show clash

Next up in our Parliamentarians’ tributes to the Queen is Alistair Carmichael who has some very funny stories to tell about the Queen, including the time when she expressed disapproval about the State Opening of Parliament clashing with the first day of the Windsor Horse Show:

The text is below:

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Queen Elizabeth II – a truly remarkable individual

I almost remember like it was yesterday. In June 2012, literally after leaving hospital, I had an opportunity to meet the Queen in Hatfield House. I am certain, whether someone is a royalist or not, meeting the Queen is quite a special moment. I was invited as a result of my work with the Polish community in Welwyn Hatfield. My short encounter with the British Monarch lasted maybe 2 minutes. She asked me about my nationality, what I did for a living and whether I was happy to move to the UK from Poland. At that time, she was already 86. Apart from me, she met another 20-30 people. She looked “intellectually sharp” and genuinely interested in what I was saying. Her gentle smile, “down to earth” personality and a simple “being in the moment” with some strangers; I was impressed. 

Moreover, only less than a week ago, on Saturday 3rd September, I was visiting Aberdeen and my Polish cousin, who has just completed his Degree in dentistry. We actually visited Balmoral Castle, which feels now, at least for me, like a historical moment…

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Layla Moran’ shares constituents’ memories of the Queen

Next up in our parliamentarians’ tributes to the Queen is Layla Moran. She shared some memories of the Queen sent to her by constituents, including her response to a wee girl who asked her why she wasn’t wearing a crown.

 

The full text is below:

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Tim Farron tells of the top tip the Queen gave him

MPs and peers have been paying tribute to HM the Queen. We’ll post the videos and text over the next few days. Here is Tim Farron’s in which he tells of a good piece of advice the Queen gave him when he was a new MP.

The full text is below:

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Ed Davey’s tribute in the House of Commons today

Ed Davey spoke movingly in the Commons today.

 

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Our memories of the Queen

I cried on the day the King died. And I surprised myself when I cried again yesterday when his daughter died.

I’m not an ardent monarchist but Queen Elizabeth has been a constant presence in my life, her picture all around, and her celebrations writ large across the nation. As my colleague wrote yesterday “It is difficult to think of a public figure who has been so well thought of for so long.”

This feels like a seminal moment and a date in history that we won’t forget.

Back in February 1952 the teachers at my school were huddled around a radio one lunchtime, looking very serious. Then we were told the news and sent home. I remember telling my mother that the King was dead but she already knew and was in tears. The words “God save the Queen” sounded very odd to us then, just as it did yesterday when the Prime Minister said “God save the King”.

I don’t remember anything about George VI’s funeral, but we didn’t have a television so it wouldn’t have had much impact on me. But I know that, to the adults around me, it seemed to bring closure to the long dark years of the war and the post-war challenges, as food rationing finally came to an end.

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HM Queen Elizabeth II 21 April 1926 – 8 September 2022

It is a moment that we all knew was going to come at some point in the not too distant future. Even so, the announcement of the Queen’s passing comes as a shock. It’s hard to take in that someone whose face you have seen every day of your life in some form is no longer with us.

Senior Liberal Democrats have remarked on her passing.

Ed Davey said:

We are all deeply mourning the profound loss of a great monarch, who served our country so faithfully all her life and who was loved the world over.

“For many people, including myself, The Queen was an ever-fixed mark in our lives. As the world changed around us and politicians came and went, The Queen was our nation’s constant.

“The Queen represented duty and courage, as well as warmth and compassion. She was a living reminder of our collective past, of the greatest generation and their sacrifices for our freedom.

“My thoughts and prayers today go especially to the Royal Family. And they also go to people in every corner of the world whose lives she touched. Today our family of nations is in mourning, as we also remember the steadfastness, resolve and love Queen Elizabeth brought to the world.”

Welsh Lib Dem Leader Jane Dodds said:

I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. My thoughts are with the King, her majesty’s other children, grandchildren and all those close to her at this difficult time.

“Her Majesty’s passing, without a doubt, does mark the end of a very long, and indeed a seminal chapter in the history of our nations and for most people her presence has been one of the few constants throughout their lives.

“Throughout her life, Her Majesty served the country with the absolute greatest dedication, honour and dignity. From serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War Two, to taking the time to speak to local schoolchildren at the opening of the Senedd last year, she never once shied away from public duty.

“Her life will forever be interlinked with that of a period of great change within the UK and although many today would struggle to recognise the world she had been born into, she always seemed to belong very much here today in the present.

“Her Majesty was always a great friend to Wales and she will be deeply missed within the UK, the Commonwealth and further afield. I pray that her journey into the next stage has been peaceful and that she is at rest.”

Scottish Lib Dem Leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said:

Queen Elizabeth II represented perhaps the greatest life of public service in the history of our country. Our family of nations is in mourning.

“For seven decades she has been our country’s most recognisable ambassador. Whether it be her wartime service, her patronage of more than 600 charities or her Covid-19 broadcast to the nation, she has been a beacon for so many people. The Queen was loved and touched lives the world over.

“She will be remembered not only as the longest reigning monarch these isles have ever seen but as a steadfast and loyal sovereign, devoted to the wellbeing of her people,

“In 1947, the 21-year-old Princess Elizabeth declared to the British Commonwealth that her whole life, whether it be long or short, would be devoted to its service. By any measure that promise has been more than fulfilled.

“The thoughts of myself, my family and all of the Scottish Liberal Democrats are with the Queen’s family and friends at this time.

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