My Lords, I echo the comments of other noble Lords about the superb opening speeches from all quarters of your Lordships’ House. I pay particular tribute to my noble friend the Lord Privy Seal, who today demonstrated what an effective Leader of this House he will be.
It was a true privilege to have met Her Majesty the Queen and it is a privilege that most, if not all, of us in this House share. We have heard some wonderful anecdotes already today. I will always be grateful for and cherish the moment that I was able to introduce my parents to Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace. You did not have to meet the Queen to feel that you knew her and that she was a very special person. Her devotion to serving all of us throughout the UK and across the Commonwealth, whatever our class, colour or religion, was evident in all that she said and did and in the way that she did it.
When I was a little girl, I once asked why the Queen never smiled when we sang “God Save the Queen”. I said, very innocently, that I thought she looked ungrateful. I was told sharply in response that it was me who should be grateful that Her Majesty did not smile during the national anthem and that it would be a bad sign if she ever did. From that day on, I always looked. She never, ever let me down.
It has always been remarkable to me that Her Majesty never did anything that made us doubt her devotion to us. I think that is why she was loved and admired by so many, and why we feel so sad and unsettled now she has gone. She made her reign as our sovereign all about us and showed us her pride in the people of this United Kingdom. All of us who were her subjects have just lost our biggest fan.
However, this is a very fortunate nation, because we know that His Majesty the King—I am still getting used to saying that, like everyone else—will continue where Her Majesty left off. He has my full support, and I offer him and the whole Royal Family my sincere condolences.