I know I speak for the whole of our community in expressing my deepest condolences to the Royal Family as we join them in mourning the loss of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Yesterday MPs made tributes to Her Majesty in the House of Commons and I wanted to share mine here:
“It is a privilege to follow so many others in rising to pay tribute to her late Majesty the Queen on behalf of the people of Ilford North and the London Borough of Redbridge. The depth of our sorrow reflects—in part—the length of her reign, her lifetime of service and duty, and the devotion she gave to her family, our country and our Commonwealth, but it also reflects how special the woman beneath the Crown was: at once the head of our royal family and yet able to touch the hearts of every family in the land.
East London holds a special place in its heart for the royal family. During the second world war, King George VI and his family stayed in London during the blitz and visited families whose lives and livelihoods had been devastated by the Nazi onslaught. The then Princess Elizabeth visited Ilford to see those affected by the bombing the day after VE Day in 1945 and returned again in 1949 to see the one thousandth council home that had been built by Atlee’s Government. She is said to have remarked,
“of all the houses and estates I have visited, Ilford’s are the best”.
She also visited a care home where one elderly resident was so thrilled to meet the Princess that they immediately burst into tears of happiness.
I saw a similar outpouring of emotion when the Queen visited Ilford again for her diamond jubilee in 2012, where she unveiled a plaque to the dry garden created in her honour in Valentines Park. It spoke to the great challenge of climate change—a cause close to the heart of our dear King. One resident told the Ilford Recorder,
“we have always read about queens and princesses in the story books. To have the Queen in our neighbourhood, it’s like a dream come true.”
A dream come true—that is a sentiment I cannot imagine being elicited for a mere President, and one that was certainly elicited with no effort for Her Majesty the Queen. It hardly seems real that that dream has ended.
We are privileged to have lived in the second Elizabethan age. Her late Majesty the Queen oversaw our country’s transition from empire to Commonwealth, to a modern democracy, witnessing huge social changes throughout her lifetime. So many of my constituents are proud of those changes, and of course retain strong familial bonds across the Commonwealth. Her Majesty showed by example that tradition and modernity are not adversaries but well-suited companions, from her first televised address to her very last Zoom call. From the beginning of her reign, amid rationing and post-war reconstruction, to her address to the nation at the height of the covid pandemic, she reminded us that whatever the triumphs and disasters of our history, our country’s best days now lie ahead. History, like life, moves on.
His Majesty the King has told us that the grief of the nation, and indeed the grief of the world, has provided comfort to his family for their irreparable loss. I hope he knows that his presence in our lives in recent days has been comforting and reassuring too—and if I may say so, Mr Speaker, when the Queen welcomed the then Duchess of Cornwall into her family, the nation took her into our hearts. It is a privilege and a pleasure to see her take her place as Queen Consort.
We are blessed to have known the reign of Elizabeth II, our greatest Queen. May God rest her soul, and may God save the King.”