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It is a privilege to pay tribute, on behalf of people in Dudley South, to our much-loved late monarch, Queen Elizabeth, and to offer our condolences to His Majesty the King, and to the royal family.
There is a poem popular at funerals that begins,
“Do not weep that I have gone,
but rejoice that I have been.”
It seems appropriate, for while we grieve for the loss of a beloved sovereign, we rejoice at all that she has given to us, our country, and the Commonwealth. Whether through providence or good fortune, we are blessed to have been granted such selfless service from one of the world’s great leaders for so very long, but it is not just because of her longevity that she will surely be remembered, long after we are gone, as Elizabeth the Great, to use the words of my right hon. Friend
Her late Majesty has guided our country since its rebuilding after the ravages of war, and since rationing was still in place, and saw it become a modern, 21st-century society. She took a disintegrating empire and created a strong Commonwealth family of nations. She was integral to our national identities, and embodied so much of what we like to think of as particularly British values and qualities. She united communities and helped to heal divisions between countries and Governments. Queen Elizabeth will be remembered for her contribution to every part of our national life, for she not only reigned over us but was there alongside us. She celebrated with us during times of national jubilation, and she provided comfort and constancy at times of great challenge. She met more people than possibly anybody else in history, and for all who met her, it was an experience that they never forgot.
Her late Majesty visited Brierley Hill, which is now part of my constituency, in 1957, not long after the start of her long reign. It was the first of three visits to Dudley borough and, 65 years later, people still have vivid memories of the day that the Queen came to town. More recently, as a student barrister, I was privileged to meet her during a training weekend at the Westminster estates, and I can only hope that the Prime Minister and other Ministers were more coherent when they were sworn into the Privy Council than I suspect I was on that day.
The Queen has been such a central part of our national life for so long that, even now, it is difficult to truly accept that she is gone. May she rest in peace and rise in glory. Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth, His Majesty the King and the royal family will always remain in our thoughts, in our prayers and in our hearts. God save the King.