17 September 2022
The death of Her Majesty the late Queen Elizabeth II is an enormous loss for us all. She has been a constant presence in all our lives. Seventy years on the throne made her the longest-serving monarch in our history. As we reflect on the Elizabethan age, we remember her as a guiding light of duty, service and unity.
As I sat in the Commons listening to tributes last Friday, it became clear that she has extraordinary reach. Almost everyone had a personal memory. In my own tribute on behalf of my North Oxfordshire constituents, I remembered her address to the nation during the pandemic when, resplendent in her NHS scrub coloured dress and brooch, Her Majesty praised “the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humoured resolve and of fellow-feeling,” of our people. These are all qualities she modelled for us and for which we loved her. To them, she added a less definable quality: a presence, a splendour which came from her deep faith and her certainty that the Crown is at the very centre of our constitution. She lit up every room; I will not forget the day she came to Oxfordshire in 2008. Hundreds of people filled the Market Place in Banbury waving flags, including lots of excited school children, as she helped us mark the 400th anniversary of the town’s Charter. Later that day, I met her as she opened the Oxford Children’s Hospital. In her we see a reflection of our own passions which is why we all feel such a deep and personal sense of loss.
As we grieve for one monarch, we welcome the reign of another whose own sense of duty is in the best traditions of his mother and his country. On Saturday, His Majesty King Charles III was proclaimed at the Accession Council at St James’s Palace in London, a historic moment which was televised for the first time. The following day, towns and cities across Britain made their own proclamation to the new king marking a new Carolean age. It was good to attend the Banbury Proclamation which took place at the Town Hall. High Steward of Banbury, and my predecessor, the Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry led the reading with several hundred in attendance. We then managed the National Anthem with the new unfamiliar words, followed by three cheers for the new King.
Returning to London the following day, it was extraordinary to be in Westminster Hall to hear King Charles III address both Houses of Parliament for the first time as monarch. His Majesty spoke very clearly about the enduring example of selfless duty set by his mother. The past few days will not have been easy for him, but he has undertaken his duties with strength and stoicism.
Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to attend Her Late Majesty’s Lying-in-State at Westminster Hall to pay their respects over the five days before her funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday 19 September.
May The Queen rest in peace and rise in glory.
God Save The King.