Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Lord Bishop of Guildford Excerpts
Friday 9th September 2022

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Morris of Aberavon Portrait Lord Morris of Aberavon (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I had the privilege on a number of occasions to have a private audience with Her Majesty, as Welsh Secretary for six years. The most memorable was, while travelling on her plane from Caernarfon, to be summoned by her private secretary to come and sit by Her Majesty on the journey to London. She sought to scrutinise my policies with very careful prodding. As a professional cross-examiner, I was totally unused to being in the witness box.

My job during the Silver Jubilee was supervising the organising of her tour of Wales, based on “Britannia” for three wonderful days, meeting her one sunny morning in a railway siding in north Wales and finishing with the Royal Marines playing on the quay in Cardiff. She greeted the immense crowds from Llandudno to Cardiff with immense pleasure and great interest. I surmise that the high point of the tour was a few quiet hours admiring the beauty of Bodnant Garden. She had the magical quality of combining formality and informality as appropriate. My wife and I valued the great care and meticulous consideration given for my wife’s hearing when she entertained us at the end of each day.

The sense of fun in the Duke and Her Majesty herself was manifest at the opening of Theatr Clwyd in north Wales, when the great actor, Emlyn Williams, delivered his monologue describing the bus trip full of Welsh bards in search of the Druid’s Tap for refreshment. When the Duke turned to me and asked, “Was there such a place as the Druid’s Tap?”, we all rolled with laughter.

Wearing another hat many years later, as Her Majesty’s Attorney-General I had the privilege at the first sitting of the Welsh Assembly to present her two copies of the Wales Bill for initialling. The first was in English; there was no problem. I then presented a second, in Welsh. Trusting her bilingual Minister, without batting an eyelid she signed the second one too.

My sympathies go to King Charles and his family. I have visited his home in Wales on many occasions and he has won the respect and friendship of the nation of Wales through his close interest in our affairs.

Lord Bishop of Guildford Portrait The Lord Bishop of Guildford
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I have been deeply moved by many of the contributions this afternoon and share all the sentiments that have been so eloquently expressed. It is a phrase used far too often, but yesterday was truly the end of an era—and a glorious era. Much has been spoken already of the Queen’s remarkable sense of service, emanating from her love for her nation and the Commonwealth, and from her deep faith in the Christ who came as one who serves. But alongside that were two further virtues, contained in another favoured Bible text from the outset of Her Majesty’s reign: the words of Moses to his successor, Joshua, when he exhorted the younger man to:

“Be strong and courageous … for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go”.

What kind of person would be willing to sacrifice their own preferences, private life and retirement plans for the sake of a nation and family of nations? What kind of person would be prepared to carry out such a punishing schedule of public engagements with extraordinary grace, month after month and year after year, even three or four decades after most of their contemporaries have opted for a quiet life of golf or daytime TV? What kind of person would put up with the endless intrusions of the press, making the odd family annus horribilis, with which we all sympathise, infinitely more difficult to bear? What kind of person would offer a listening ear to politicians, Prime Ministers and Presidents alike, while holding to the discipline of never straying into the political arena themselves? It is a strong and courageous person—a person whose commitment to duty, as we have heard, overrode all else.