There are many weeks that begin with reflective responses of what has taken place in the previous few days or sometimes even the last few weeks. The impact on our politicians is a theme I often spot because these changes can affect our communities. Most of these days are relatively modest and even when they are much more significant such as after a General Election or with major international issues such as the COP26 as they are anticipated. However last week involved some significant elements that we had anticipated along with another theme that we could not predict. Some of what happened last week included elements that we have never experienced in our lifetime. The death of our Queen on Thursday and the announcement of a new King a few hours later were certainly unpredicted and bizarrely came within a few hours of our political changes. Last week was anticipated to introduce a new Prime Minister and of course that was bound to have a major impact on the Parliament and for the people who would take part in the Government.
Shortly after the death of the Queen comments emerged from our political agencies on the tragic end of her life. One of the first came from Pete Bradbury, the chairman of West Sussex County Council, who began his statement with “This is a terribly sad day for the nation and the people of West Sussex. Her Majesty has a long association with our county”. The following morning East Sussex stated “There is deep sorrow in East Sussex at the announcement of the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Our chairman will be writing to the new sovereign to offer our condolences at this sad time.”. Along with many Council responses there were also comments from many of our MPs. Caroline Lucas who is our Sussex Green MP stated “My deepest condolences to the Royal Family following the sad news of the death of the Queen. At the heart of this country’s life for so long, she witnessed enormous change. I thank her for 70 years of tireless work & send my thoughts & prayers to her family at this difficult time.” The Labour MP who responded was Peter Kyle from Hove who stated “Unceasing service to the very end. Queen Elizabeth II defined an era through duty, grace and dignity. She had a smile that could lift a nation and the words to steel us in difficult times.” There were inevitably several Conservative MPs who responded including in the first few hours after we heard that she had died. In East Sussex Huw Merriman the Bexhill and Battle MP said “Today, we mourn the passing of our Monarch; Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. We remember her life and give thanks for her unfaltering and dedicated 70 years of public service. My deepest condolences to the Royal Family and all in our nation and Commonwealth.” Among the West Sussex MPs Gillian Keegan who is the Chichester MP stated “Deeply saddened to hear about the death of The Queen. My deepest condolences go to our Royal Family. Her Majesty will be greatly missed by our nation and by many across the globe. Her extraordinary reign spanned many generations and will be celebrated by generations to come.”
As we know, the death of the Queen arose two days after she had confirmed that Boris Johnson was no longer our nations Prime Minister and that she had handed over that significant role to Liz Truss. One might have assumed that Liz would have planned to visit the Queen most weeks as all of her predecessors did so. However, within 24 hours she met King Charles III on Friday and she will presumably now be expected to meet him on a regular occasion. It was interesting for those of us in Sussex that Liz Truss initially introduced Nusrat Ghani as a new Minister and within a few days she had reconnected with all of the other existing Sussex Ministers apart from Maria Caulfield who appears to have lost her role. Inevitably as we face a new political situation which involves our local MPs, many of us will take some time to understand how the new King will impact our Nation. I had the privilege to meet him 14 years ago and indeed I was also privileged to visit several events that involved the Queen in the past. However, there will be many people with different views about the new King as well as the loss of the Queen. One of my friends, Leslie Brissett commented last week “To have a King so committed to the environment and inter-faith relations at this time of “crisis” may just be extraordinary!” No doubt this week will be a very significant start of a new phase for our Nation.