MPs fall silent in poignant tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

9 September 2022, 12:28 | Updated: 9 September 2022, 15:59

Members of Parliament have observed a minute's silence in memory of Queen Elizabeth II.
Members of Parliament have observed a minute's silence in memory of Queen Elizabeth II. Picture: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Alamy

By Lauren Lewis

Members of Parliament have observed a minute's silence in memory of Queen Elizabeth II.

MPs stood in a crowded chamber with heads bowed.

Former prime minister Boris Johnson told the Commons he "choked up" when he was asked to record a tribute to the Queen by the BBC.

He said: "A few months ago the BBC came to see me to talk about Her Majesty the Queen, and we sat down, the cameras started rolling, and they requested that I should talk about her in the past tense.

"I am afraid I simply choked up and I couldn't go on. I am really not easily moved to tears, but I was so overcome with sadness that I had to ask them to go away.

"I know that today there are countless people in this country and around the world who have experienced the same sudden unexpected emotion."

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle described the Queen as a "noble, gracious" lady who "devoted her life to her family, the United Kingdom, and those nations around the world, whom she served as Queen".

He said: "Over her reign she has seen unprecedented social, cultural, technological change, through it all she has been the most conscientious and dutiful monarchs.

"But whilst she understood the unescapable nature of duty, which sometimes must have weighed upon her heavily, she also delighted in carrying it out for she was the most devoted monarch."

He added: "Our memories of her will be filled with that image of a gently smiling dedication that showed throughout her life."

Prime Minister Liz Truss praised her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as "one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known".

She added: "On the death of her father King George VI, Winston Churchill said the news had stilled the clatter and traffic of 20th century life in many lands.

"Now 70 years later in the tumult of the 21st century life has paused again. Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known.

Read more: Live updates: King Charles to return to London as memorials to Queen Elizabeth begin

Poignant moment Parliament falls silent in memory of the Queen

Ms Truss said: "Her late Majesty's image is an icon for what Britain stands for as a nation, on our coins, on our stamps, and in portraits around the world. Her legacy will endure through the countless people she met, the global history she witnessed, and the lives that she touched.

"She was loved and admired by people across the United Kingdom and across the world. One of the reasons for that affection was her sheer humanity. She reinvented monarchy for the modern age.

"She was a champion of freedom and democracy around the world. She was dignified but not distant. She was willing to have fun."

She added: "During her first televised Christmas message in 1957 she said: 'today we need a special kind of courage so we can show the world that we are not afraid of the future'. We need that courage now."

Ms Truss went on: "In the hours since last night's shocking news, we have witnessed the most heartfelt outpouring of grief at the loss of Her late Majesty the Queen.

"Crowds have gathered, flags have been lowered to half-mast, tributes have been sent from every continent around the world."

The prime minister heralded a new "Carolean age" as she closed her speech saying "God save the King".

She told MPs: "All of us in this House will support him as he takes our country forward to a new era of hope and progress. Our new Carolean age.

"The crown endures. Our nation endures. And in that spirit, I say God save the King."

Liz Truss honours the Queen in front of MPs

Read more: From stamps and cash to the national anthem: the things that will change now Charles is King

Sir Keir Starmer told the Commons "our Queen played a crucial role as the thread between the history we cherish and the present we own".

The Labour leader went on: "Never was this link more important than when our country was plunged into lockdown at the start of the pandemic.

"Her simple message: that we would see family again, that we would see friends again, that we would be together again, gave people strength and courage when they needed it most.

"But it wasn't simply the message that allowed a shaken nation to draw upon those reserves, it was the fact she was the messenger."

He added: "At the time we were most alone, at a time we had been driven apart, she held the nation close, in a way no one else could have done. For that, we say: thank you."

Keir Starmer pays tribute to the Queen in statement to the House of Commons

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: "She was a monarch who reigned with compassion and integrity and established a deep connection with the public.

"And the affection which the Queen had for Scotland, and that Scotland had for the Queen, cannot be under-estimated."

He added: "The relationship between Scotland and the Queen was one of shared admiration.

"Indeed, whilst she was everyone's Queen, for many in Scotland, she was Elizabeth, Queen of Scots."

Meanwhile peers today gathered in the House of Lords to pay their respects.

Proceedings began with a minute's silence led by the Lord Speaker Lord McFall of Alcluith.

Paying his own tribute, he said: "Her late majesty whom we mourn today was for over 70 years a loyal and steadfast presence in the national life of the United Kingdom.

"Her strong sense of public duty and her devotion to the welfare and the happiness of her people served to bind our nation together during an epoch of unprecedented societal and technological change.

"Her unique record of public service, deep sense of faith and commitment to her role ensure that she will be regarded as a supreme example of a constitutional monarch."

He added: "Today my thoughts and indeed those of the whole House go out to members of her family especially His Majesty the King for who this feeling of loss will be profound.

"I offer my devoted sympathy as well as the thoughts, prayers, commitment and dedication of this House and its members."

Read more: Queen died 'with Charles and Anne' at her bedside as other Royals rushed in vain to be by her side

Irish premier Micheal Martin said that the late Queen has been a constant in the world political order as he expressed Ireland's understanding of the "enormous change" her passing represents.

Speaking to reporters in Bray, Co Wicklow, Mr Martin said that the Queen's most enduring legacy in an Irish context would "unquestionably" be her visit to Ireland in 2011, which had made him "very anxious that it would happen", during his time as minister for foreign affairs.

He said that the Queen's trip to Cork as part of that visit will be "a visit that will never be forgotten".

"In the context of all that has gone on between Britain and Ireland over the centuries, it definitely closed one chapter and opened up a new chapter, and it was the culmination really of all the work that went into the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement.

"The head of state of the UK coming to Ireland represented the crowning moment, if you like, for all that had gone before in terms of peacebuilding and in terms of creating a new political order on the island of Ireland."

Read more: World pays tribute to 'kind-hearted' Queen who 'defined an era'

Speaking after signing a book of condolence and lighting a candle at Manchester Cathedral, mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: "Here in Greater Manchester, as elsewhere, we are absorbing the enormity of yesterday's news.

"The period of national mourning and reflection that we go into is important for two reasons, first, as a mark of respect for a truly exceptional life and, of course for the royal family, but also as a moment of true reflection on what Her Majesty the Queen taught us, what she gave us.

"Because as we go forward from here it will be important to understand that.

"In a world that is ever-changing and very volatile, she provided constancy and consistency for the British people and those are qualities that we all need to learn to value more.

"She defined the national character in most of the last century and in this, what it is to be British, that mix of stoicism and a sense of humour.

"A great basis on which anybody can face the ups and downs of life, but also stern and serious yet warm and generous at the same time. That's Queen Elizabeth II as I remember her."

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