This morning I returned to Westminster to attend the tributes to the Queen in the House of Commons, which were led by the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, and Sir Keir Starmer. We also heard from former Prime Ministers, Boris Johnson and Theresa May, and many other leading political figures. These tributes will continue on Saturday and Parliament will then be suspended until after the state funeral. During the intervening period the Queen will for a few days lie in state in the grandeur of Westminster Hall, as her mother did before her, so that people can pay their respects.
The Queen was part of our national life. Most of us can’t remember a time without her. For seven decades she has been a reassuring constant in people’s lives as the world has changed around them. Her decades of unstinting service earned her our respect and in her later years, as she carried out her duties despite her age and her obvious frailty, our affection. I know that many across Bristol, the UK, and indeed the world will feel as if something has been lost today. As Keir said in his excellent speech, she represented a stillness – a sense of calm and continuation – at the centre of the storm.
She oversaw 15 different Prime Ministers in her reign: some, shall we say, more challenging than others! On Tuesday she once again fulfilled her constitutional duty to appoint the new Prime Minister, and I don’t think it’s too fanciful to say that then, duty done, she chose her time to depart us.
Whatever your views on the institution of the monarchy, or who should be our Head of State, it is right that we pay tribute to a lifetime of public service.
My condolences go to her family. They have lost a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. We have lost our Queen. May she rest in peace.