Celebrating seven decades of our Queen is something the Commons can unite on
As I am sure is the case for most people, Her Majesty the Queen has always been a constant presence in my life.
When I was born, she was there – I have never known a time when she was not there – and she has continued to steady the ship of our lives ever since.
To me, the Queen has always been a unifying figure, none more so than during the Second World War. She was 13 when war broke out, yet as a teenager, the then Princess Elizabeth used her platform to bring comfort to the country in a time of great distress. In 1940, she took to the airwaves to offer reassurance to children evacuated out of London – and later took part in the Dig for Victory campaign, to encourage people to grow their own vegetables to counter the shortage of food. By the age of 18, she had joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service – the women’s branch of the British Army.
For the past 70 years Her Majesty has continued to serve in the same vein: quietly, but assuredly, maintaining a dignified presence; soothing troubled waters, but never raising her voice above the fray.
The Queen’s relationship with the Commons is ever present in what we say, in what we do, and how we do it
The fact that she is now the third-longest serving monarch in world history – and the first in this country to achieve a Platinum Jubilee – is incredible. It is why, collectively, we wanted to mark this milestone with a special gift – a pair of ornate lamps, sculpted in bronze – funded entirely by Members of both Houses of Parliament. Situated between two of our previous gifts to Her Majesty – the Diamond Jubilee window in Westminster Hall and the Silver Jubilee fountain in New Palace Yard – it is hoped they will symbolise the guiding light she has been to the nation.
After all, the Queen’s relationship with the Commons is ever present in what we say, in what we do, and how we do it. MPs have to swear allegiance to the Queen in order to take their seat. The Mace in Parliament is the symbol of the monarch’s authority and without it neither House can meet or pass laws. Even the government’s agenda is set out in the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament, which was read for the first time recently, by the Prince of Wales.
Whatever people’s views – and there have been plenty of republicans sitting in the Chamber over the years – the one unifying factor is the respect with which Her Majesty is held. People may not agree with the monarchy – or what it stands for - but they admire Her Majesty for her lifelong commitment to serve this country.
And it is her lengthy reign and experience, her sage advice and her devotion to the UK, the British Overseas’ Territories, and the Commonwealth of Nations, that has no doubt been of particular benefit to all 14 prime ministers who have served her over the years.
So, as we mark this historic Jubilee, I for one will be doing so with gusto. After everything we have been through, particularly in recent times, Her Majesty’s anniversary gives us the best excuse we need to celebrate all that is good about our country and the woman who will forever be known as Our Queen.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle is the MP for Chorley and speaker of the House of Commons.
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