Yesterday a friend of mine here in Brighton, Andy Winter wrote a piece that he has included in his blog and also in his column in the Argus newspaper yesterday about his experience of meeting the Queen. It is a very nice piece entitled “My Lunch with the Queen” and it can be found here. As it happens I have had the privilege of being in an event in Hove a few years ago that included the Queen and I was also invited to her garden a couple of times in the past. Last Thursday in the House of Commons just before Parliament closed down due to the half term period there was a discussion entitled “Address to Her Majesty: Platinum Jubilee” which can be found here. There was a very nice speech by Peter Bottomley who was the only Sussex MP who spoke during that debate. His words are shown below. He refers to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Labour Party and indeed he was the first MP who spoke after they had both spoken. This was primarily because he is the Father of the House of Commons. The speech from Boris Johnson as Prime Minister began with these few words in his statement.
I beg to move,
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty to offer the heartfelt good wishes and loyal devotion of the House on the occasion of the Seventieth Anniversary of Her Accession to the Throne, expressing its deep gratitude for Her Majesty’s lifelong unstinting service, leadership and commitment to the United Kingdom, Dependencies and Territories, Her other Realms, and the Commonwealth.
And then after Boris and Keir had spoken these words from Peter Bottomley took place which I very much enjoyed
I stand here between two Crowns: symbols of the fact that the Queen is an important part of the lawmaking process.
We thank the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister for the way they have introduced the debate. The Leader of the Opposition referred to his knighthood. Last evening at Drapers’ Hall, Richard Luce, now Lord Luce, former Lord Chamberlain to the Queen, spoke for her platinum jubilee in the presence of the Earl of Wessex. Drapers’ Hall is where the Queen was admitted as a senior member of the Court. Some years after, she attended the opening of Drapers’ Academy in east London. Two pupils had school dinner with her and were asked what that was like. They said, “It was all right when we asked her what it was like during the war.”
The Queen has become the person we all know her to have been. She has been through more things than all the rest of us have in our lifetimes. I was calculating that the senior Member of this House, Margaret Beckett who was elected before me, and I have served on and off for two-thirds of her reign. When I was first elected, Sir Bernard Braine was the Member for the overseas territories and dependencies. There have been others who have fulfilled that role. We are not just speaking for this country; we are speaking for the dependencies as well. I am very glad that Mr Speaker is able to be in the Falkland Islands, and we send him our best wishes and thanks for doing that.
On the human side, when my wife and I were living in south London, the Queen’s Equerry, Patrick Plunket, bought a house nearby. He sadly died early, and the Queen and Prince Philip very kindly came to a birthday party for Robin Plunket, the brother. I have never seen such a fast gathering of prams and children to provide a guard of honour for one of the Queen’s informal visits. She just attracted people and spoke to them all with the kind of inclusiveness which we can occasionally see at the garden parties, when 8,000 of her closest friends come together several times a year.
It is also notable that the Queen has been on the throne 70 years. It is 69 years, I think, since the coronation. I was one of the people, aged eight, sleeping out in the Mall. I end with this: for those who may get involved in quiz questions about the Queen and even the coronation, the person with Queen Sālote of Tonga was Ibrahim IV, the Sultan of Kelantan in Malaysia, not the person in Noël Coward’s joke. We wish her well.
It will be a very fascinating period over the next few days as we celebrate the Queens Jubilee