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
    +4

    Comment number 586.

    King Edward viii was the last Royal to do anything honourable By abdicating for the women he loved.
    Ever since he has been subjected to the most severe character assassination by ''the firm's'' spin machine. Strange.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 585.

    Have a look at elections for top job in so many other countries, those of you who feel you ought to have a voice in who ultimately "heads" the UK. Seriously, immerse yourself in these highly complex processes before you leap to any conclusions. Do you imagine many people get to participate in crucial Nomination? What about the divisiveness of nasty fights for votes? And when the best one loses?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 584.

    562. unknown_legend "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."
    You defeat your own argument - the queen is unelected - the pm is an elected MP who, like them or not , is the real leader of the country by vote not birth

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 583.

    Woops, I read: Diamond Jubilee, Queen eradicates herself from the UK. That would be a headline!

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 582.

    I came to the US 33 years ago. When I observe the political circus in which a president serves as monarch in effect, I'm glad my home country has the system it does. Many Americans admire the British monarchy. My guess is the US would have been a better country had politics and ceremony not been rolled into a single office. If you vote for a head of state, you get the same divisiveness the US has.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 581.

    I would rededicate myself to anything if I was on her money. Bit of a no brainer. the monarchy is our heritage and lets be honest the only thing we have got left after years of asset stripping Britain to line the pockets of a few. Another publicity stunt to enthuse the masses while having no effect at all on daily lives. I could live without it.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 580.

    558.Bob_Carolgees

    .When we elect ALL of our legislature..

    We elect all our MP's and PM's and yet in a contest of integrity, honesty and commitment to country, I would pick the Queen every time.
    Politicians are scum..all of them..It is part of the training. Learn to lie and underdeliver and you're there. Philip and Charles might be mad, but at least they are honest and you know what they believe.

  • rate this
    +48

    Comment number 579.

    Republican or not, those who don't repect the Queen and her family need to learn to understand that to many people such as myself who are neither royalist or republican, hold the monarch in a view that sees her as an institution this country can be proud off. It is the simple reason that her family understands their position in our society and with such power comes massive responsibility.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 578.

    Banal

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 577.

    To all the republicans, if you abolished the monarchy, would you want current or past Prime Ministers as head of state? If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Leave the monarchy alone.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 576.

    All I would say to the anti monarchists who would like to vote somebody in.
    We have this option when we vote for a political party, and how many people think we (the people) have got this one right? What makes you think another vote will make things better?
    Come on Liz I'm right behind you

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 575.

    Prince Charles dresses up in Scottish outfits pretending to be Scottish. Pantomime gets passed down through the generations. The D of E has an enthusiasm for dressing up as well. He has an Admiral of the Fleet outfit in his wardrobe plus numerous others. A lot of this is passed down historical stuff from Albert & Victoria's wardrobe. A vast array of character costumes from their amateur theatre

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 574.

    558 Bob_Carolgees writes meaningless twoddle but with elegance.

    Name your President then - let's see how discerning you are.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 573.

    Having read through a few more comments I am disgusted at the vile nature of some peoples comments, I'm from Pakistan a commonwealth nation when I was born ,this lady represents this land in a dignified and noble way that no other person could ,maybe some of you people should go live elsewhere , try comparing her with other monarchs around the world you will realise we did rather good

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 572.

    God bless the Queen..!!!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 571.

    Well, I have great respect for the Queen and her consistent duty of service.

    Governments come and go. Prime Minister Cameron and Deputy PM Clegg will go sooner rather than later, with any luck, on their destruction of the NHS.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 570.

    540. news_monitor
    The one over-riding factor that has always caused so much misery in this country is the British Class System & the existence of its monarchy is keeping that corrupt system alive."
    -

    So you say that if we are a Republic, suddenly everyone becomes equal in every way? Just like America? Or France?

    That's as deluded as saying if we became a Republic, there'd be no more wars.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 569.

    549.Rabid Right Wing Europhobe

    On the contrary. I was just pointing out that they can huff and puff as much as they like..... but the end result is that the republicans will still be a small minority.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 568.

    Have we forgotten our history? Monarchs were often deposed in bloody fashion, and the rules of some lines were short. So while we may all love this particular queen, the utility of the overall institution is another question entirely.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 567.

    The Queen does a great job,she has put this country above all else,the cost to us is nothing compared to the wealth this country receives due to the tourist trade she attracts,in her middle eighties she travels the world to promote this country and lets face it there are hundreds cost this country more in benefits and can only be bothered to get out of bed to go to the dole not to work.

 

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