I rise on behalf of my constituents to offer our condolences to the family of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth and to offer our loyalty to the new King. Queen Elizabeth II, who reigned for 70 years, is the only sovereign most of us have ever known. She was our constant in a changing world, our cornerstone at times of crisis, and our comfort when in sorrow. My nanna was a big fan. My mum, who is 70 this year, remembers as a child being read books about the young princesses and looking at photos of them all the time. I think the war years made that generation feel particularly close to the young Queen.
The Queen was a friend to Croydon and visited many times in her reign. I remember precisely how exciting it was as a Brownie lining up with my flag to welcome her when she opened the Queen’s Gardens in the middle of my constituency—few things in my suburban childhood topped a visit from the Queen.
Of course, it is not just Croydon and this country who are mourning. The world is in sorrow. The front page of The New York Times this morning simply says, “Queen and Spirit of Britain”. Many of us find it hard to imagine Britain without her. It feels bleak, but then I think, what would she do? What did she do when her own father, King George VI, died? I know that she would stand tall, face the day, pray to her God and do the best job that she could—and as the King said this evening, she would fearlessly embrace progress. That is the spirit we all keep alive.
Heavy is the head that wears the crown—quite literally, as it turns out. The Queen was once heard to say that wearing a crown was like wearing a 10-lb salmon on her head, but she bore the weight well. Her service, her humility and her constancy are what we can all strive to achieve.
The Queen’s death comes at a time of real challenge for our country. If ever we needed to be more like her, it is now. Let one of her legacies be that we will all try to be a little more like her—service, steady progress, humility, constancy and some fun along the way. None of us will see another Queen in our lifetime, so we say “Thank you” to Her late Majesty, and God save the King.