Shailesh Vara speaks in Parliament to pay tribute to Her Late Majesty The Queen.
I rise on behalf of myself and my constituents in North West Cambridgeshire to pay tribute to Her late Majesty the Queen.
It is fair to say that all of us in this Chamber have had Her Majesty as part of our lives, and I mean that quite literally. She demonstrated an extraordinary sense of duty and commitment to public service. Her Majesty has left an imprint not only on our country and the Commonwealth, but across the world. She holds the world record for being featured on the most global currencies, and her passing is being marked across the world. For example, in India they will have a national day of mourning this Sunday.
As well as being our Queen, she was, of course, a global figure with a global understanding. This was summed up when she spoke at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Kampala, Uganda, in November 2007, when she said:
“Recognising that each one of us is made up of layer upon layer of identity and that each of our unique personalities has ties to culture, religion, community, country and beyond, is the essence of open and tolerant communities.”
Like many others, I was very fortunate to meet Her Majesty on a number of occasions. The last time was on 8 July at Windsor castle, when I was sworn into the Privy Council before receiving the seals of office for Northern Ireland. I will treasure her wonderful smile to me as I shook her hand and as I took the oath of allegiance holding the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu book used on such occasions. After the ceremony, I was allowed to keep the copy on which I had taken the oath. The occasion is all the more special for me because, while there was subsequently a virtual swearing into the Privy Council, I was the last person to be sworn personally by Her Majesty into the Privy Council.
It is extraordinary that so many global leaders confess in their biographies that on meeting Her Majesty, they were so nervous, and then they add that she very quickly put them at their ease, often with a joke. We will miss her.
I conclude by saying that my prayers and thoughts are very much with the royal family at this difficult time, and particularly with King Charles as he takes on his enormous responsibilities. God save the King.