HAYES IN THE HOUSE: By MP John Hayes
Britain’s longest-reigning monarch has touched our lives for a remarkable 64 years, and as we delight in her landmark 90th birthday, what better time could there be to reflect upon how truly special her tenure has been?
Our country has seen enormous social and cultural changes over the decades Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth has been on the throne. Her stoic presence has provided continuity throughout a period of vast national transformation, guiding Britain from the years of post-war rationing through to the modern world in which we take so much for granted. Her reign has overseen the peaceful transition from Empire to Commonwealth -of which, as the Head, she commands such respect and loyalty across the globe.
As well as her essential constitutional role as Head of State – one which spans 12 Prime Ministers to date – the Queen magnifies our sense of identity. Her quiet dignity, steadfast devotion, and wealth of knowledge explain an enduring admiration for her personally which is even greater than the adherence to the institution alone. Her public service is as humbling as it is humbly offered.
The magic and mystery of the Monarchy, which is woven into our national life, elevates us from the prosaic. Through the glamour of majesty shared by all, Britons are enriched and Britain stands tall; proud of our past, comfortable with the present and optimistic for the future. In an increasingly atomised, individualistic and sometimes brutal society the Queen is an elegant symbol of all we share.
With this is mind, I was honoured to join local residents in the Deepings to celebrate Her Majesty’s birthday by the lighting of a beacon there. Communities up and down Britain came together to mark the special occasion, with over a thousand similar beacons throughout the UK, the first of which was lit by the Queen herself at Windsor Castle.
Speaking in the Deepings I observed that the Queen’s enduring presence has coloured my whole life – a constant emblem of the nation. In Westminster the Prime Minister said that the Queen’s reign “has been a golden thread running through three post-war generations.” Long may she reign, and, as we reflect on the second Elizabethan Age, I have no doubt it will be with great joy, for there has never been a sovereign like her.