Diamond Jubilee: Queen rededicates herself to UK

 

Highlights of the Queen's visit to Parliament event to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee

The Queen has said she is rededicating herself to the service of the UK and its people as she celebrates her Diamond Jubilee.

In a speech to both Houses of Parliament, she said the commemoration of her 60 years on the throne was a chance "to come together in a spirit of neighbourliness and celebration".

The Queen also praised Prince Philip for his "constant strength".

A stained glassed window commissioned for the Jubilee was unveiled.

Hundreds of dignitaries, including Prime Minister David Cameron, his deputy Nick Clegg, Labour leader Ed Miliband and Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, assembled for the speech, which was greeted with a standing ovation.

The Queen responded to tributes made to her in both Houses of Parliament earlier this month.

'Ingenuity and tolerance'

These "humble addresses" were officially presented to her by Commons Speaker John Bercow and Lords Speaker Baroness D'Souza.

Speaking in Westminster Hall, the Queen paid tribute to the British virtues of "resilience, ingenuity and tolerance", and to the Duke of Edinburgh, whom she called her "constant strength and guide" over the decades.

This was a confident Queen who didn't court controversy.

She tried a few gags. Once they had warmed up, her audience - which included political foes forced to sit next to each other and exchange pleasantries - laughed on cue.

She paid a public tribute to the man who, privately, plays such a pivotal role in her life.

Prince Philip listened in silence - very much his role when on display these past sixty years.

Her talk of rededicating herself to the service of "our great country" will come as no great surprise - abdication is still a taboo word for the Windsors.

But it will have pained the small number of protesters seeking an elected head of state who gathered outside Westminster Hall.

Their pain will only increase in the coming months as the Diamond Jubilee is celebrated in the sixteen countries where Elizabeth is still Queen.

She said: "During these years as your Queen, the support of my family has, across the generations, been beyond measure.

"Prince Philip is, I believe, well-known for declining compliments of any kind. But throughout he has been a constant strength and guide."

Reflecting on the ancient setting for her address: "We are reminded here of our past, of the continuity of our national story and the virtues of resilience, ingenuity and tolerance which created it.

"I have been privileged to witness some of that history and, with the support of my family, rededicate myself to the service of our great country and its people now and in the years to come."

The Queen also looked back at the only other monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee, Queen Victoria, in 1897.

She said: "So, in an era when the regular, worthy rhythm of life is less eye-catching than doing something extraordinary, I am reassured that I am merely the second sovereign to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee."

Ahead of the speech, House of Commons Speaker John Bercow praised the Queen for presiding over an increase in diversity in public life during her reign, describing her as a "kaleidoscope Queen of a kaleidoscope country in a kaleidoscope Commonwealth".

'Close affinity'

The tradition of both houses of Parliament making addresses to the monarch and the sovereign replying dates back to the 16th Century.

Such events have been staged in Westminster Hall since George V's Silver Jubilee in 1935.

To mark the occasion, the Queen was presented with the specially commissioned stained glass window as a gift by members of both Houses of Parliament.

Dignitaries at Westminster Hall Past prime ministers were in Westminster Hall for the Queen's address

Consisting of up 1,500 pieces of glass, it has been paid for personally by members of both Houses and designed by British artist John Reyntiens.

In her speech, the Queen praised the "remarkable sacrifice and courage of our armed forces", adding: "Much may have indeed have changed these past 60 years but the valour of those who risk their lives for the defence and freedom of us all remains undimmed."

Members of the Royal Family have begun touring the Commonwealth to mark the Diamond Jubilee, with Prince Harry recently returning from a trip to Belize, the Bahamas and Jamaica.

The Queen said: "These overseas tours are a reminder of our close affinity with the Commonwealth, encompassing about one-third of the world's population.

"My own association with the Commonwealth has taught me that the most important contact between nations is usually contact between its peoples.

"An organisation dedicated to certain values, the Commonwealth has flourished and grown by successfully promoting and protecting that contact."

Monarchy debate

A small number of anti-monarchy protesters gathered outside Parliament during the Queen's speech.

Supporters of the campaign group Republic, which wants a "democratic alternative" to the monarchy, said there needed to be a debate about whether a hereditary institution was appropriate for the country in the 21st Century.

"The role of head of state is too important simply to be chosen by an accident of birth," Labour MP Katy Clark told Radio 4's World at One.

"It should not be a hereditary position that people are entitled to. We should have a say over who it is."

Few people are accorded the honour of addressing both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall. Among those to have done so in recent times include US President Barack Obama and Pope Benedict XVI.

The Queen addressed Parliament in 1977 and 2002 when she marked her Silver and Golden Jubilees respectively.

The Queen began her Diamond Jubilee tour of the UK in Leicester earlier this month. Celebrations will come to a head in June during a four-day series of events.

 

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  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 566.

    We do not need this unelected head of state in Scotland.Arguably it is corrupt due to a bias medieval reward peerage system .One that I am personally angry to have fund with my tax that would better serve education or health care .

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 565.

    118-How would you like to live in goldfish bowl? EVERYONE looking at your every move, if you make a gaff no one notices, for the Royals it's in EVERY paper, the internet etc..So I thank G-d I live a life where I am not hounded by the press, yes, I could use a few quid more, but in the end, i'll take annonimity & a 20yr old car, may you live a happy healthy life Your Majesty, & she is majestic!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 564.

    The Queen unifies our country providing a focus as a figure head as well as a good representative for us. True she is wealthy being born into privilege. However so are many of the current government, who place less value in things many public hold dear (such as our ancient woodlands they want to destroy for roads) most elected leaders are stinking rich - rather the Queen than a corrupt elected.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 563.

    @Bret Charman

    I think I would like you to elabourate on the connection between the person, the queen, and income from tourism.

    I am not entirely sure that tourists come to see "the monarch" because the odds of seeing her are pretty slim. Furthermore, the revenues from the Palace of Verseilles dwarf those of anything in the UK, and the French don't have a monarchy.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 562.

    461.owlfandbg
    32 Minutes ago
    "After all PM is the real head of state."

    And therein lies the problem. The Monarchy is a very effective way of ensuring democracy does not interfere with who is running the country. We never get to decide who is pm, only the winning party members get to do that.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 561.

    "539.BobP

    If you took the trouble to read all my posts instead of jumping in half way through you'd see I am pro monarchy and have not mentioned destroying anything. Therefore your assumption is not only utterly incorrect, but ill informed.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 560.

    512.brazilwatcher
    "I wasn't going to bother opening this comments page because I knew it would be full of rude, snide comments from the lefties and sure enough it is."

    Why the instant assumption that all those with republican views are left-leaning? And there are an awful lot of arrogant, smug comments from monarchists on here too.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 559.

    521.Michael Lloyd

    "I am more than 60 years old, so I would just like someone to clarify for me please, once and for all, just exactly what has she done over the past 60 years that benefits us all? I can think of nothing."

    So all those American's and Japanese who flock to London in the summer come here to see Tony Blair then?

    You really need to think a bit harder.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 558.

    The day will come when the great British people run this country. When those in power are there by merit, not by blood. When we elect ALL of our legislature. When the last vestiges of the divisive hierarchical class structure are wiped from our society, and when we are all truly equal. I have a dream!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 557.

    a lot of pro-monarchy comments are talking about our heritage. If you go back far enough in our 'heritage' you'll find us living in trees and going "ook" a lot. People and societies evolve - if they don't they stagnate and die. And for those of you claiming the queen is a tourist attraction please visit http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/feb/23/british-tourist-attractions-visitor-figures

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 556.

    "Maxone
    George III was defeated by the US Revolutionary forces and lost the American War of Independence."

    But defeated Louis XV and Napoleon, two greater threats and the reason English is the global language it is today. I also said his case stands up well, not necessarily a compelling case.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 555.

    The Queen is a really switched on woman. We don't need all these platitudes from her.
    When she came to the throne the country was on an upward surge-a war won, a great new health service, New Towns springing up with more and better housing, etc etc.
    All this wrecked by the gross incompetence and hubris of politicians, greedy businesses and unions of all types and parties.
    I bet she knows this.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 554.

    Lost of people are going on about how much the Royal Family costs. It would be interesting for someone to add the wage bill of all the MPs, the cost of their expenses (which like the royal families we also pay for) and the costs of their 2nd homes and see which costs more parliament or royal family.

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 553.

    Every day as I get older I love Her Majesty more & more and I believe I understand her better & better. For women & girls in particular, she is a beacon of hope, everywhere: a brilliant reminder that there is nothing "2nd-rate" about being born Not Male. As Sovereign & as Supreme Governor-CoE, she has been exemplary. With Prince Philip, she shows Age ≠ Frailty. Their Presence uplifts & ennobles.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 552.

    Not my favourite family.

    I see no point to her and her ilk.

    I see the royalists are out in force, but so what?

    Makes zero difference to anyone's life whether this woman sits on the throne or a potted plant sits there.

    Boring.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 551.

    I am of Danish and German origin if I go back 100 years. Does that mean I'm not British? Just wondering like.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 550.

    Why is it the anti-monarchists fail to see how beneficial the royals are to the UK's tourism industry? I am sure a lot of people in London would be without a job if it was not for the royals. Not only that but the Queen is respected throughout the world and compliments an elected government in this modern capitalist world. Sometimes it is nice to keep the traditional aspects as well as the modern.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 549.

    "Nimrod2
    They can chuck their toys around on this site all they like but it will do them no good."

    It seems you don't agree with the constitutional protections we have on freedom of expression. Indeed, since about George III it has been perfectly acceptable to criticise the monarch without facing punishment or imprisonment.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 548.

    Brilliant - the Queen drove an ambulance what a lot of tosh. I thought it was an ice-cream van!!!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 547.

    What is abundantly clear and indisputable from the posts on this site is that the monarchy unites this country like no other institution. Just like it did in 1649!

    P.S well done BBC for actually acknowledging the Republic protest - about time too.

 

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