Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II - Tributes (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:00 pm on 9 September 2022.

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Photo of Baroness Uddin Baroness Uddin Non-affiliated 4:00, 9 September 2022

My Lords, Inna Lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un: to God we belong, and unto God we shall be returned. As a Muslim, these are the first sentiments that we utter on hearing news of deaths. So it was that I learned of Her Majesty’s death and shared the same words with my friends and family.

I stand in deepest sorrow and share all the condolences to His Majesty King Charles III and Her Majesty’s beloved family—our sincerest sorrow and deepest sympathy. Being respectful of all the eloquent contributions before me, I speak as her Peer, a woman, a mother and grandmother, in expressing my deepest gratitude for her lifelong service to our nation and the Commonwealth—indeed, the longest serving woman leader of any nation. Her presence will have inspired umpteen generations of younger women and emerging leaders in their communities and countries. We cannot overestimate the impact on the young of Her Majesty’s encounter, with natural ease, with Paddington Bear, or of her bus ride on a Peppa Pig bus booked to Buckingham Palace. I can share with noble Lords the endearment with which Her Majesty is held by the generation of my seven year-old granddaughter, Imaan, who wants to meet Her Majesty the Queen on the next red bus ride.

On a very personal note, I had the honour of receiving Her Majesty the Queen for the first time as deputy leader of Tower Hamlets Council during her visit to a London hospital. I had just given birth and left a breastfed baby behind. The royal visit was a little delayed and, as I got a call, I stepped out of this huge building with a heavy wooden door and shielded myself behind the entrance. As I was there for a few minutes, the door was flung open, exposing me with a little telephone to my ear. I was petrified. Her Majesty opened the door and said, “Who are you?”. I curtsied and said, “Your Majesty, I am the deputy leader of the council, here to welcome you, to receive you, and I am really sorry. I had to step out because I have a screaming baby and a distressed husband.” She asked me how many children I had: was this the first? I said, “No, Your Majesty, this is my fifth.” She said, “For God’s sake, tell him to get a bottle and feed him.” Remarkably, a few years later, in the Royal Gallery, when I was introduced as the first Muslim woman appointed by her to this House, she asked me if we had met before. I dared to explain where I had met her and she asked where the babies were. I said, “Unfortunately, still with the same man.”

The smile that I saw everywhere yesterday on television was exactly the smile that was so endearing and so loving. It was almost as though you knew her, although those moments were so little, so unimportant, in the greater scheme of things.

I am thankful for this opportunity to express my humblest gratitude for Her Majesty’s life of service and dedication to all her people. As a mother, I feel confident that Her Majesty’s teaching and indelible wisdom will be imprinted in the footprints of His Majesty King Charles III: duty to our whole country as defender of all people, of all faiths. Long may he reign, and may Almighty God bless our Queen, eternal guardian of peace beside her beloved rock.