Valerie pays tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II

On 9 and 10  September 2022  the House of Commons sat for 2 days to hear tributes to the Queen. I spoke on Friday. Here is my speech:

“It falls to our generation to tell of the passing of our gracious sovereign, of the passing of a platinum Elizabethan age, of a young woman, with responsibility thrust on her, but without a manual she wrote her own story, and in doing so, wrote the story of our nation—a story through which we have all lived.

We have known her as a young woman who actively supported the war effort and danced in the street when the war was over, and we saw her jump out of a helicopter in the Olympic ceremony in 2012; that showed us her sense of humour and showed us that we were more than just medals.

I was in Walsall yesterday when I heard the sad news of Queen Elizabeth’s passing. I know that my constituents in Walsall South are grieving; the owner of Fortune Cookie, our local Chinese takeaway, was in tears. In every school that I and every other Member has visited, the question has always been asked: “Have you met the Queen?”. Launer, based in Walsall South, makes her handbags. I hope that the royal link will continue, especially now that we know, thanks to a refugee from Peru, that she used to keep marmalade sandwiches in her handbag to keep her going.
As a lawyer, all I ever knew was “the Queen’s Bench Division” and “Queen’s Counsel”. That, like our stamps and notes, will change to herald a new era.

Having been born in Aden to Goan parents, I had never imagined that I would meet Queen Elizabeth; but I did—in the Gallery in the other place, in the British Museum, and in the Privy Council. Those who have had an audience with her can testify to her wisdom and generosity of spirit. She had the ability to speak with people as though she had known them forever, whether she was talking to a winning jockey or a little girl with a posy, or working to the end to welcome her 15th Prime Minister. Like all of us, she knew that life is a rollercoaster, but she never complained, and only ever mentioned one year as an “annus horribilis”.

Our Queen carried out her duties with dignity, grace and love for us and her country, yet also embraced different countries and cultures through the Commonwealth, always respecting differences, dealing with changes, and acknowledging past mistakes, knowing that life and history move on. Queen Elizabeth reminded us that we are human beings first and members of a race second, and that our duty is to help each other make this world a better place and live in peace—just as she said in her first broadcast. How we will miss those quiet, reassuring messages to the nation, at Christmas and at difficult times.

Duty, service, Defender of the Faith and love for her United Kingdom: a constant that brought us all together. The bright full moon shone down last night, and there was a rainbow over Windsor castle, which reminded us of God’s promise to His faithful. We pray for her grieving family to get through this difficult time, and especially for King Charles III. Eternal rest grant unto Queen Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor: May she rest in peace.”