|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
A number of people have spoken about the Queen Mother's character, her sense of humour and the way in which she could conduct herself to put almost anyone she met at ease. She expressed and carried herself with extraordinary grace without in any way losing a sense of her majesty or position. She had such an effect on the people of Northern Ireland from the first time that she visited it in 1924 as the Duchess of York right through until her comparatively recent visits.
One remembers the Queen Mother not so much because of her character, longevity and the events that she lived through, but more because of the contribution that she made towards this nation over time. Reference has been made to her courage and to her sense of duty Inevitably, one thinks of how she and His Majesty King George VI conducted themselves during the second world war. However, I rather suspect that, when the full story is told, we will realise that she made an even greater contribution in the mid to late 1930s. With her husband, she provided stability at a time when our society was under great stress. That active contribution then and during the war years will be seen not as her only contribution to our nation's life, but the most significant.
The Queen Mother's courage did not diminish either. I recall that the plans and details of her visit to Northern Ireland in 1983 were stolen from a press cameraman's car in Dublin a few days before the visit was to take place. However, she carried on with the visit and, to the consternation of those responsible for her security, she departed from her itinerary to mingle with the crowd. That emphasised her courage and her ready rapport with the people.
As we have all acknowledged, the Queen Mother made a tremendous contribution over a long period. Underneath it all was her sense of duty and her sense of having a job to discharge and a service to give to our nation. That will be remembered.
Mr. Stuart Bell (Middlesbrough): I want to say a few words as Second Church Estates Commissioner on behalf of the Church of England as the established Church, although my remarks will cover all faiths and religions.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother lived the life of a true Christian, finding her deep spirituality in the worship of God, in the stories of the Bible and in the singing of hymns. She enjoyed going to church. It was a part of her life. As the Archbishop of Canterbury has said:
We saw goodness and love in her life, and what that love and goodness has meant to each one of us. She might have been born in a world of privilege, but she subordinated that privilege to a sense of public duty. Her motto seemed to be the greater the privilege, the greater the public duty. She had a visiona clear view of her world. She might have walked with kings and archbishops, but she never lost Kipling's common touch. In her love of racing, she would have seen the likes of the famous tipster Prince Monolulu on the race course and she might have read and enjoyed the racing novels of Sir Dick Francis, her ex-jockey, but she also introduced the royal walkabout with the King.
Faith, it is said, can move mountains. The Queen Mother did not need to move mountains, but she was able to show that faith can be an inspiration to us all to lead a good life, a useful life, a dedicated life. She showed that goodness, like mercy, can touch the lives of others, as she did walking around the east end in the blitz. She showed that even the memory, the recollection, the remembrance of things past, can create goodness in others and make better persons of thousandspossibly millionswho had never met or spoken to her, but who had felt her presence and been motivated by her example. The Queen Mother has left us not a footprint in the sands of time, but a monument to decencya beacon that shall shine as a guiding light unto a perfect day.
The Church shall rejoice in her life because her faith has nourished the faith of others. Christians and others of all religions the world over can be inspired by her example in what, for many of them in different parts of the world, are troubled times. She believed in the faith that, like love, passeth all understanding. We must mourn her passing but think of her in our prayers, and think too of those she has left behind, not only members of the royal family, who clearly loved her dearly, but the people of our nation who equally loved her.
Rev. Ian Paisley (North Antrim): May I identify myself with the remarks that others have made, and express the sympathy of those whom I represent in this House and the people of Northern Ireland whom I represent here on this sad occasion?
Our words are but breath: they are like life itselfthey appear for a little time and then vanish away. Our tributes today are but tiny tributaries that can never fill the great ocean of what we would like to express at a time of national sorrow and at the end of a very important historic era in this nation's history.
We might well pose a question to ourselves in the House today. What was the secret of her love, her courage, her steadfastness, her loyalty, her determination, her sparkle and her zest for living throughout her life? No doubt vast numbers of people who listened to the tributes paid on a very good BBC programme on Sunday evening will have been struck by two very important incidents, one in the days of sunrise for the Queen Mother and one in the days of sunset for her.
From the days of sunrise was the recollection of the fact that for her church confirmation the Queen Mother picked for her hymn a very well known hymn, "I'm not ashamed to own my Lord or to defend His Cause, Maintain the honour of His Word and the Glory of His Cross." In the days when sunset was coming, two trees in her castle grounds had to be felled and her staff worried what her reaction would be. However, when she came out and looked on the felled trees, she said, "I am glad now that they are gone for we now can see the mountains." She then recited the magnificent Psalm of David:
My strength cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth".
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made
Our times are in His Hand
Who saidA whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God
See all. Be not afraid."
I believe that if we can learn the lessons of the Queen Mother's life, this nation can renew its strength. I salute the memory of a great Queen and a great Queen Mother. I salute the memory of a job that was well done, of a race that was well run and of a battle that was well won. John Bunyan, the author of "The Immortal Dream", said of the pilgrim:
Ms Oona King (Bethnal Green and Bow): I speak in this debate to represent the people of the east end who, as the whole country knows, held the Queen Mother in great affection. I shall speak not about what the Queen Mother inherited or passed on, but what the Queen Mother merited. She merited respect, and nowhere is that respect greater than in my constituencyland of the pearly kings and queens who were inspired by the sparkling monarch who picked her way through the rubble.