My Lords, may I begin by saying how much I appreciated the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord True, and my noble friend Lady Smith in opening this debate. They were wonderfully moving.
Like many noble Lords, I spent yesterday evening glued to the television and exchanging messages with family and friends, and, like many other noble Lords, I was puzzled as to why I felt so discombobulated and odd. That is an experience that we all seem to have shared. Possibly it is because I was born in the year that the Queen came to the throne—I am 70 in six weeks’ time—but actually I think it is mostly because we were witnessing something seismic, a huge shift in our civic infrastructure and our life in the UK, and we all have to come to terms with that. We in this House have to work out how to support our nation in getting through this period.
I am a member of what I like to think of as the elite group in this House who are Baronesses in Waiting. Since several Baronesses in Waiting are here and have spoken, I wonder whether we should form a former Baronesses in Waiting group—“FBIWG”, we could call it. Most of us had to be taught how to curtsey, because if you do not get it right you fall over. In my case, I was taught by a lady in waiting just before the audience that we all have to have before we can undertake the varied duties of being a Baroness in Waiting. I do not have a huge recollection of the conversation in that audience because there were several of us and it was actually a bit terrifying. However, in the course of that conversation I mentioned to Her Majesty that the week before, I had been to Poundbury on a coach trip of parliamentarians. When I said that, I saw a glimpse of a mother who was really proud of her boy. She was really proud of the work that our new Head of State was doing in Poundbury in its early days.
The duties that we were to undertake were very varied. In my case, they included accompanying Her Majesty to Parliament for State Opening in December 2009 in an open carriage—I underline that this was in December—with Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, who I have to say I thought was going to turn blue with cold. We had other duties such as attending diplomatic balls. I am a millworker’s daughter from Bradford, so I experienced these things with wonder and perhaps some terror but, like others in this House, I also experienced the warmth and humour of Her Majesty and other members of the family, which turned those into very valued and treasured experiences.
As our new Head of State, King Charles, said in his address tonight, he will have to leave behind many of the causes and organisations into which he has poured his time and passion for decades, from young people to the unemployed and the environment. I must say, I hope that many of those progressive causes do not fall by the wayside. I was pleased to hear His Majesty’s assurance that support for many of those businesses, charities, social enterprises and causes will be picked up and will continue.
In his remarks, His Majesty finished on a point of hope. I think we just need to say “Onward and upward” from now on.