Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II - Tributes (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 9 September 2022.

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Photo of Baroness Stroud Baroness Stroud Conservative 7:15, 9 September 2022

My Lords, I did not have the privilege of knowing Her Majesty personally so I have no stories of cushions or tea sets, but the most precious possession I have is the letter of summons to this House, which reads:

“I give you a seat, a place and a voice” in the Parliaments of this land. Therefore, it is a real privilege to be able to give my tribute to Her Majesty too.

When the Queen was 21 years old, as I am sure many have said today in this House, she delivered a speech that bore the mark of her maturity—that maturity which guided her life. Her words speak louder than anything we can say:

“If we all go forward together with an unwavering faith, a high courage, and a quiet heart, we shall be able to make of this ancient commonwealth, which we all love so dearly, an even grander thing—more free, more prosperous, more happy and a more powerful influence for good in the world—than it has been in the greatest days of our forefathers. To accomplish that we must give nothing less than the whole of ourselves. There is a motto which has been borne by many of my ancestors—a noble motto, ‘I serve’.”

And she declared

“before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service.”

Today, we think of that unwavering faith, that high courage, that quiet heart, and that beauty which today shines from the ashes. We all feel the baton being passed to the next generation. As it passes, my prayer is that her legacy will be that we walk with that same courage, that same humility, integrity and grace.

The Queen has been a gift to our nation, binding us together. The second Elizabethan era has been a time when culture and society have changed beyond recognition. In the shaking and polarisation, she has been a constant that has unified us. She has shown leadership through service. A role model, she has shown the same ethos that guides the lives of heroes across society: duty, service and responsibility. They may feel outmoded, but these virtues are the root of our prosperity.

It is no small thing to have a Head of State who sees their role as being one who serves. Institutional trust, so fundamental to the flourishing of society, relies on leaders of character being held in high honour by the people. Her unique constitutional position could have been a burden, but she walked with unflappable grace and courage for the common good. From the Cold War through to Covid, she led with courage in crisis after crisis. She consistently lifted our vision higher; with public discourse so often concerned with the next crisis or scandal, she sought to stand above the fray.

As the flame passes on to us, we must remember the core foundational principles that made her such a remarkable woman. She believed that the British nation could be a light among the nations and contribute positively in the world. She consciously and publicly modelled her life on the example of Jesus and saw the future through the lens of hope. May the words she delivered as we began the first Easter of the pandemic—words which reflected her core, driving convictions—carry us in the next season:

“As dark as death can be—particularly for those suffering with grief—light and life are greater.”

Today is a day to remember and celebrate the legacy of a woman who has given us so much. Seventy-three years after the speech given at 21 years old, Elizabeth II readied herself for another landmark moment. It was the outset of the pandemic and she set out a vision for how we should approach the coming season of crisis and change. While lockdown may be over, her words still ring true today:

“I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge. And those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any. That the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humoured resolve and of fellow-feeling still characterise this country. The pride in who we are is not a part of our past, it defines our present and our future.”

May that be so.