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By Lord Forsyth
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Penny Mordaunt tribute to Queen Elizabeth II: 'She lived and died in the service of the nation'

Queen Elizabeth II delivering a speech in the House of Lords (PA Images/Alamy)

3 min read

It is always an honour to represent the people of Portsmouth as one of their MPs. It was especially so this week when bringing to a close the tributes paid to Her Late Majesty the Queen.

Portsmouth was a city she visited not just for fleet reviews, civic events, homecomings or ship commissioning, but in transit to board her beloved Royal Yacht Britannia. In all cases, the people of my city remember her connection to and understanding of the tools of UK sea power, our sailors, our civilians, their families, our dockyard and our warships. For a time, that was her life, too. She had worn a uniform; she was a naval wife. She understood service and sacrifice and the burdens people carried.

That empathy was evident in all that she did. It was no surprise to hear so many tributes to her in the Commons. Members were full of examples of her personal kindness, or of concern and care for the staff of this estate. It is in the nature of those who have endured to have empathy.

The Queen was our Polaris, but she was not a distant Queen. She took an interest in us all because she recognised the burden of service. Her reign began with a very public grief because she could not mourn her father in private. She loved Balmoral not just for its beauty and peace, but because she got a chance to do so in privacy.

For me, the fact that she met her new Prime Minister in person and prepared to take a Privy Council a day before her death illustrated the depth of her devotion to duty. The Queen lived and died in the service of the nation, as her father and his father before him did.

We cannot all be Royal, but we can act with her nobility

In the final analysis, this is the measure of all true greatness. It is not weighed by wealth or by gain, but by loss. Sacrifice is the ultimate test of faith and duty. All that is ‘yours’ must be laid down for all that is ‘us’. All that is ‘they’ must be laid down for all that is ‘we’. For only those that bear this cross can wear the crown because crowns are not made just of jewels and precious metals, they are mostly made of love. Speaking after 9/11, the Queen comforted us and the rest of the world by saying that grief was the price of love. Her words should comfort us still. We may now feel lost and uncertain, just like some may have felt seventy years ago when she vowed that her life would be dedicated to us.

If only they had known what a life she would lead, what glories and hope and vision she would bestow. They need not have worried, and nor should we now. Like his mother’s grief at her father’s death, His Majesty’s grief, too, will not be a private one. He will lead us in mourning. He also carries the cross – a cross of sacrifice and service.

Our Queen has entrusted us all with a living legacy of triumph over tribulation, of cheerfulness over challenge, of dedication and determination. We cannot all be Royal, but we can act with her nobility. She has left us, but her values remain with us. Her example compels us to continued fidelity to our King and our country. Long after we have lived through this period, these will be my abiding memories of Her Majesty. We are as grateful for her sacrifice as we are inspired by her service.

Penny Mordaunt is Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

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