Last week the House of Commons presented a humble Address to Her Majesty The Queen to mark the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne. David Cameron led tributes, highlights of which are summarised below.
The Queen's grace and dignity: "On her first address to the nation as Queen, Her Majesty pledged that throughout all her life and with all her heart, she would strive to be worthy of the people’s trust. This she has achieved beyond question. The nation holds her in its heart not just as the figurehead of an institution, but as an individual who has served this country with unerring grace, dignity and decency."
The Queen has adapted to a changing world: "While the sands of culture shift and the tides of politics ebb and flow, Her Majesty has been a permanent anchor – bracing Britain against the storms, grounding us in certainty. And crucially, simultaneously, she has moved the Monarchy forward. It has been said that “the art of progress is to preserve order amid change and change amid order”, and in this the Queen is unparalleled. She has never shut the door on the future; instead, she has led the way through it. Ushering in the television cameras. Opening up the Royal Collection and the Palaces. Hosting receptions and awards ceremonies for every area of public life."
The Queen's years of work: "Over sixty years, according to one royal biographer, she has met four million people in person equivalent to the population of New Zealand. In terms of garden parties alone, she has invited some two million people to tea. She is, of course, Queen of sixteen countries and has surely travelled more widely than any other Head of State in history. As she herself has been heard to say – and it is a lesson for all of us in this House – ‘I have to be seen to be believed.’"
The Queen's statesmanship: "Like her previous eleven Prime Ministers, I have been struck by Her Majesty’s perspective on world events. And like my predecessors I am truly grateful for the way she handles our national interests. Last year’s visit to Ireland was a lesson in statecraft. It showed once again that the Queen can extend the hand of friendship like no other."
The Queen's role in building the Commonwealth: "It is doubtful whether this great alliance would ever have thrived without the dedication of Her Majesty. When the Queen became Head of the Commonwealth in 1952, it had eight members; today, it has 54. No one has done more to promote this unique family of nations, spanning every continent, all the main religions and nearly a third of the world’s population. And in all her realms... she is loved because she is a Queen for everyone; for each of us and all of us."
The Diamond Jubilee gives us the chance to show our gratitude: "By the time she opens the Olympics, the Queen’s Jubilee tour will have taken her and Prince Philip to every part of the United Kingdom. In June, London will see a huge pop concert, a great procession and the largest gathering on the Thames for more than three centuries barges and cutters; narrow boats and motor boats square riggers, naval vessels, the little ships of Dunkirk all of them will be there to pay tribute to our magnificent Queen. Diamond is an appropriate epithet for this Jubilee. For sixty years Her Majesty has been a point of light in our national life; brilliant, enduring and resilient. For that she has the respect of this House, and the enduring affection of her people."