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Ed Davey tribute to Queen Elizabeth II: 'Our nation’s constant'

Queen Elizabeth II greets well-wishers on the Royal Jubilee Tour, May 1977 (Credit: Trinity Mirror/Mirrorpix/Alamy)

4 min read

The whole country is mourning a profound loss. The Queen was a formidable monarch, who faithfully served our country for all her life and was loved the world over.

She represented not only duty and courage, but warmth and compassion. And she was a living reminder of our collective past, of the greatest generation and their sacrifices for our freedom.

For many people – myself included – Her Majesty was an ever-fixed mark in our lives. As the world changed around us, and politicians came and went, she was our nation’s constant.

Whenever I met her, I was struck by her warmth, her wisdom and her humour

In challenging times, she was always a source of calm and comfort. And she tied our nations together. Embodying an unwavering pride in our country. Showing us that patriotism is not defined by political allegiance. And reminding us of the many things that bind us all together – even when it doesn’t always feel that way.

We saw this so vividly during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June. I am proud to represent the oldest Royal Borough in England – Kingston upon Thames – and our Jubilee street parties certainly lived up to that status.

It was truly wonderful to see such an outpouring of affection from people across Kingston, from all walks of life. School children who baked jubilee cakes. Neighbours who shared bunting. Choirs who sang hymns of praise.

It was incredibly fitting that, after so long kept apart by Covid, it was the Queen and a celebration of Her Majesty’s reign that brought our communities back together so joyfully. Just as the whole country is united today so sadly in grief.

The deep mourning across the country now – just like the celebrations of her Jubilee a few months ago – comes not from a sense of duty, but from genuine and heartfelt affection, love and admiration of Her Majesty. It's not because we were her subjects, but because she was truly our Queen.

What she meant to us is perhaps best summed up by a phrase on so many people’s lips these past few days: “I can’t imagine our country without her.”

For almost everyone in the country, she has been there our whole lives. At times of national grief and national jubilation, she has never not been there for us. So, it is hard to accept that she is gone. And hard to see how we go on without her.

But we will. Our great United Kingdom has a great future – because the Queen’s spirit of strength, grace and resolve lives on in her people.

One of the greatest privileges of being a Member of Parliament was the chance to meet Her Majesty. Like when she visited Kingston on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee. Or when I was deeply privileged to sit next to her at lunch at Windsor Castle.

I was initially confused by a silver cylinder beside her place setting. I wondered to myself what treasures it might hold. I had my suspicions when, as dessert was served, her beloved Corgis were let in, and nestled themselves round her feet. The Queen lifted up the lid of the cylinder, plucked out some digestive biscuits, and began sneaking them to her grateful dogs.

Whenever I met her, I was struck by her warmth, her wisdom and her humour. And we hear so many similar stories that give glimpses of the wonderful person beneath the Crown.

Her Majesty will be remembered with honour, as the monarch who guided our country out of the shadow of a terrible war. Who helmed us calmly through troubled waters and brought us safely into a new millennium.

She will be remembered so fondly as the monarch who leapt from a helicopter with James Bond and showed Paddington where she kept her marmalade sandwiches.

For the Royal Family, she will be remembered simply as a beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Our thoughts, prayers and condolences are with them all as they bear this terrible loss.

After a lifetime of dedicated and tireless service to our country and our Commonwealth, Her Majesty has gone to her eternal rest. May God rest her soul. And may God save the King.

Ed Davey is MP for Kingston and Surbiton and leader of the Liberal Democrats.

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