Liz Truss Calls Queen "Greatest Leader World Has Ever Known" As MPs Begin Tributes
Liz Truss leads tributes the Queen Elizabeth II in the House of Commons (Paliament.tv)
Prime Minister Liz Truss has described Queen Elizabeth II as “one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known” as she opened tributes in Parliament following the monarch's death aged 96.
On Thursday Buckingham Palace confirmed that Queen Elizabeth II had died peacefully in Balmoral, aged 96. Her death triggered an outpouring of tributes from political figures in the UK and abroad.
Prime Minister Liz Truss, who entered No 10 just days ago, began two days of tributes to the Queen by MPs and Lords, as all other parliamentary buisness is suspended during a 10-day period of national mourning.
Echoing her statement on Downing Street on Thursday evening, Truss told MPs that: "Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second was one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known.
"She was the rock on which modern Britain was built."Truss told the Commons: “Her legacy will endure through the countless people she met, the global history she witnessed and the lives that she touched.
“She was loved and admired by people across the United Kingdom and across the world.”
Truss, who was officially invited to form a government by the Queen on Tuesday following her election as Conservative Party leader described the Queen as having “reinvented monarchy for the modern age”.
“She was a champion of freedom and democracy around the world,” she added.
“She was dignified but not distant, she was willing to have fun whether on a mission with 007, or having tea with Paddington Bear.”
Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle also spoke of a time of "great considerable sadness", but "those memories of a noble gracious leader who devoted her life to her family, the United Kingdom, and those nations around the world, who she served as Queen will bring us some consolation and joy".
"Over her reign she has seen unprecedented social, cultural, technological change. Through it all she has been the most conscientious and dutiful of monarchs," he said.
"But whilst she understood the inescapable nature of duty, which sometimes must have weighed upon her heavily, she also delighted in carrying it out."
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer described the country as “united in mourning” after the “70 glorious years of her reign”.
“She did not simply reign over us. She lived alongside us, she shared in our hopes and our fears, our joys and our pain, our good times and our bad,” he said.
Starmer also reflected on her ties to history, and the message she shared at the height of the Covid crisis in 2020.
“Never was this link more important than when our country was plunged into lockdown at the start of the pandemic.
“A simple message that we would see family again, that we would see friends again, that we would be together again, gave people strength and courage when they needed it most.”
In a powerful first speech since returning to the backbenches earlier this week, former prime minister Boris Johnson said the Queen had been "as radiant and as knowledgeable and as fascinasted by politics as ever I can remember" when he saw her at Balmoral to tender his resignastion on Tuesday.
He labelled her as "Elizabeth the Great" who had been a "changeless human reference point in British life."
Johnson, the former mayor of London, also remembered the famous video clip from the 2012 Olympic Games, where the Queen appeared to have jumped out of a helicopter with James Bond.
"She knew instinctively how to cheer up the nation, how to lead a celebration," he said.
"I remember her innocent joy more than 10 years ago after the opening ceremony of the London Olympics when I told her that the leader of a friendly Middle Eastern country seemed actually to believe that she had jumped out of a helicopter in a pink dress and parachuted into the stadium.
"And I remember her equal pleasure of being told just a few weeks ago that she had been a smash hit in her performance with Paddington Bear," he added, referring to her platinum jubilee celebrations.
Johnson also spoke of the impact of the Queen's legacy, after she spent 70 years on the throne.
"The fact that today we can say with such confidence God save the King is a tribute to him," he added.
"But above all to Elizabeth the Great who worked so hard for the good of her country, not just now but for generations to come.
"That is why we mourn her so deeply and it is in the depths of our grief that we understand why we loved her so much."
The Houses of Parliament are not expected to sit next week but tributes will be heard today, and in a rare Saturday sitting tomorrow.
Truss is expected to have an audience with King Charles III on Friday afternoon at Buckingham Palace, and is then expected to attend a service at St Paul's Cathedral this evening.
The Commons will open at 2pm tomorrow with senior MPs taking an oath of allegiance to the King. All MPs will have the option to take the oath, but it is not compulsory.
Tributes from MPs will follow until 10pm. The House is not expected to sit on Sunday.
The final business of the day on Saturday will be the consideration “of a formal humble address to His Majesty The King expressing the deep sympathy of the House on the death of Her late Majesty The Queen”, the Commons said in a statement.
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