Philip Dunne pays tribute to Her Late Majesty The Queen.
Today marks the end of an era, the modern Elizabethan era. The Queen was the only monarch that I, almost everyone in this Chamber and most of our nation had ever known. I join Members on both sides of the House who have spoken so movingly in mourning the death of our longest-serving sovereign, Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and I pass on my condolences and those of my constituents in south Shropshire to members of the royal family who grieve her loss.
We reflect today with great sadness and sense of loss, but we also remember with great joy the inspiration she gave in devoting her life to the service of others. Her first of 15 Prime Ministers heralded her accession to the throne as launching “a golden age” and as
“the signal for…a brightening salvation of the human scene.”—[Official Report, 11 February 1952; Vol. 495, c. 962.]
And so it proved in so many areas of human endeavour and achievement by her and her subjects over these past 70 years.
As others have mentioned, we will all probably remember where we were when we heard the news of Her Majesty’s death yesterday. Although she was 96, it still came as a lightning bolt of shock in the midst of the thunderstorms raging across her kingdom yesterday. I was with members of the Environmental Audit Committee at a half-full reservoir in Cornwall surrounded by trees. That seems strangely fitting, as I wish to touch very briefly on the commitment Her Majesty showed to the environment.
Through her love of nature and animals, which others have mentioned, she and her devoted husband Prince Philip, the late Duke of Edinburgh, undoubtedly planted the seed of their family’s enthusiasm for championing nature and leading the crusade to combat climate change, decades before it became fashionable. Only last November, in her message to international leaders and delegates attending COP26, she said:
“The time for words has now moved to the time for action.”
We saw her love of nature whenever she was walking or riding in the countryside around Balmoral or Sandringham. Her love of animals was legendary, and it was one of the characteristics that connected her to her people. Her particular love of horses has been mentioned, and it was no accident that the Royal Windsor horse show was the event she enjoyed the most each year.
We all knew, even if we could not always comprehend it, her particular love of corgis, but her love of trees will leave a lasting physical legacy. I suspect she planted more trees than anyone else in public life, anywhere around the globe. The platinum jubilee Queen’s green canopy has seen a million trees planted in her honour this year alone, and it will be a lasting reminder of her for decades, if not hundreds of years, to come.
Her only visit to the Ludlow constituency was in the year after her golden jubilee, when she came by royal train to Telford and visited Much Wenlock with Prince Philip to take in the Wenlock Olympian games, an early precursor to her role at London 2012. She showed that her priorities lay with her people by having lunch at the discovery centre in Craven Arms rather than at the gourmet delights of Ludlow. She went on to do a walkabout in the market square in Ludlow, where thousands turned out to welcome the first visit by a reigning monarch in more than 300 years. Most visits by her predecessors had been at the head of an army.
While tributes have been made today to his mother and matriarch to the nation, His Majesty King Charles III has been doing a walkabout among well-wishers outside Buckingham Palace. The Queen’s example of engaging with us all is already being carried on by her successor. God rest Her Majesty. God save the King.