My Lords, I had the privilege on a number of occasions to have a private audience with Her Majesty, as Welsh Secretary for six years. The most memorable was, while travelling on her plane from Caernarfon, to be summoned by her private secretary to come and sit by Her Majesty on the journey to London. She sought to scrutinise my policies with very careful prodding. As a professional cross-examiner, I was totally unused to being in the witness box.
My job during the Silver Jubilee was supervising the organising of her tour of Wales, based on “Britannia” for three wonderful days, meeting her one sunny morning in a railway siding in north Wales and finishing with the Royal Marines playing on the quay in Cardiff. She greeted the immense crowds from Llandudno to Cardiff with immense pleasure and great interest. I surmise that the high point of the tour was a few quiet hours admiring the beauty of Bodnant Garden. She had the magical quality of combining formality and informality as appropriate. My wife and I valued the great care and meticulous consideration given for my wife’s hearing when she entertained us at the end of each day.
The sense of fun in the Duke and Her Majesty herself was manifest at the opening of Theatr Clwyd in north Wales, when the great actor, Emlyn Williams, delivered his monologue describing the bus trip full of Welsh bards in search of the Druid’s Tap for refreshment. When the Duke turned to me and asked, “Was there such a place as the Druid’s Tap?”, we all rolled with laughter.
Wearing another hat many years later, as Her Majesty’s Attorney-General I had the privilege at the first sitting of the Welsh Assembly to present her two copies of the Wales Bill for initialling. The first was in English; there was no problem. I then presented a second, in Welsh. Trusting her bilingual Minister, without batting an eyelid she signed the second one too.
My sympathies go to King Charles and his family. I have visited his home in Wales on many occasions and he has won the respect and friendship of the nation of Wales through his close interest in our affairs.