The sun is shining in London today - the day the Queen is coming to parliament to address the House of Commons and the House of Lords. This is in celebration of the Jubilee and also for a special celebration window to be unveiled to her. It will take place in Westminster Hall, the ancient hall which is the founding hall of parliament, and where every week I welcome schools who visit the House.
The first recorded address by both Houses was in 1540 and throughout history, the subject matter of addresses has been varied. While some earlier addresses were contentious, pressing on the government particular courses of action; increasingly addresses have been used for expressions of congratulation or condolence.
The Diamond Jubilee window consists of up to 1,500 pieces, and takes its inspiration from the seventeenth century heraldic art and this country’s long tradition of stained glass. The design process involved looking at heraldic art in other media, particularly woodcarving, in order to provide the three dimensional quality and the liveliness that the artist desired. The window was designed and made by British artist John Reyntiens working with a team of experienced draftsmen, painters and technicians in his studio. The window will remain on display so that visitors can examine the craftsmanship in detail until it is formally installed in the three central panels of the north window in Westminster Hall.
Full credit to my colleague Michael Ellis MP who has organised this window. I should add, in this time of budgets, that the cost of the window has been met entirely by voluntary subscription by members of the House of Commons, House of Lords and staff at the Houses of Parliament as a thank you to Her Majesty. I paid my contribution willingly - and am a huge supporter of the amazing work she does. I wish her Majesty very well.