Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle tribute to Queen Elizabeth II: 'Even in death she had the ability to bring people together'
I was sitting in the Speaker’s Chair, listening to the new Prime Minister in her debut debate about energy prices, when a chill wind swept through the Chamber.
A note was passed to me, with a whisper: “It’s not good news.” Buckingham Palace was due to announce that our beloved monarch – Her Majesty the Queen – was under medical supervision. “You should make a statement to the House.”
Within hours of standing up in the Chair to inform my ashen-faced colleagues, the worst of all news came through. The woman who we all felt like we knew; who had been Queen for longer than I have been on this earth; who has brought the Greatness to Great Britain - had gone.
As well as her compassion, Her Majesty had a canny knack of seeing the funny side of life
We all know everything has to come to an end – but in this case, there is an air of unreality. While no-one is immortal, I think for all of us who loved the Queen, subconsciously we believed she was.
After all, Her Majesty has been at the centre of everything that is important to us, and which makes us who we are - from state occasions to royal weddings, and especially at Christmas, with her wise words and reflective annual message.
She is on our stamps, our coins, our passports, and – until the tragic news came through – was the focus of our national anthem.
We have shared her joy during celebrations for her Silver, Gold, Diamond and Platinum Jubilees – and her sadness at the death of her beloved husband Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
While as politicians, our most visible contact with Her Majesty has been during the State Opening of Parliament, my most abiding memory was of her putting me at ease during my first Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph as Speaker.
Standing near her before the televised ceremony began, hoping against hope that I would not drop my wreath, I thought it only polite to introduce myself.
“Your Majesty, I’m the new Speaker,” I told her nervously – to which she replied, reassuringly: “I know who you are – you don’t need to worry.” And instantly, I didn’t - she was so kind.
As well as her compassion, Her Majesty had a canny knack of seeing the funny side of life. Who could not have enjoyed the skit of her “jumping out of a plane” at the 2012 Olympics, or, more recently, sharing a marmalade sandwich with Paddington Bear during celebrations for her Platinum Jubilee?
These themes of fun, dignity, kindness and caring also emerged from the many personal stories and experiences I heard from colleagues during their tributes to the Queen in the House of Commons Chamber, less than 24-hours after her passing made our collective clocks stop.
Even in death, our much-loved monarch was able to bring people together – even political foes. Her life has been like no other – our love for her will endure – her legacy lives on.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle is the MP for Chorley and Speaker of The House of Commons.
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