Peter Bottomley tribute to Queen Elizabeth II: ‘She was the very spirit of Great Britain’
We pay love, respect and gratitude to Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. We must give life to her values and virtues of kindness, aspiration, perseverance and pride.
After the death of King George VI in 1952 came the cry, "Long Live The Queen". Queen Elizabeth II was coronated a year later when I was just eight years old. I slept overnight on The Mall waiting to see the procession. My sister and mother walked across St James’ Park to join our father, a steward outside Westminster Abbey, while I took myself across London to watch the coronation on a tiny flickering television set, recently bought or hired by Reverend Leighton Thomson, the famous vicar of Chelsea Old Church. I remember watching Queen Salote of Tonga, the only other female Commonwealth monarch, as she rode through the rainy streets of London, refusing to close the top of her carriage out of respect for our new Monarch.
She was the very spirit of Great Britain and her unwavering sense of duty to her people and country will never be forgotten
The monarchy continues because we wish it. As the focus of the voluntary service, military services, civil service and the police, Queen Elizabeth encouraged and personified dedication to the public good throughout the Commonwealth and the United Kingdom.
During her 70-year reign, the Queen greeted 15 British prime ministers, from the great wartime statesman Winston Churchill to our current Prime Minister Liz Truss. Her loss is immeasurable. She was vital to the continuity and unity of our country and across the world. She was the very spirit of Great Britain and her unwavering sense of duty to her people and country will never be forgotten.
Most of us have never known another Monarch, but Queen Elizabeth’s death signals the beginning of a new era with King Charles III. The King knows he will be more limited in commenting on issues than he was as heir to the Throne. At dinner in Speaker’s House decades ago, he explained without complaint that if he said nothing interesting he was described as dull, and if his words were not dull he would be accused of being controversial.
During a royal visit to Durrington High School in my constituency in 1999, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip shared their values of kindness and generosity. At the opening of the Drapers Academy at Harold Hill near Romford, she sat between students for the school dinner. Everyone relaxed when she talked about her years of education and wartime experiences. She was equally normal when remembering opening envelopes with her children’s school examination results.
In every constituency, MPs will know how much she was appreciated, respected and loved. Let us do our best to continue her legacy, bringing people together across the UK and the Commonwealth which she devotedly served for 70 years.
Queen Elizabeth was brilliant with every person she met, her great sense of humour and generous spirit put everyone at ease.
In Her late Majesty’s own words: “We will meet again.” We thank her, we miss her. God Save the King.
Sir Peter Bottomley, Conservative MP for Worthing West and Father of the House.
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