• FW
  • /
  • Tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, 10 September 2022
My tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, 10 September 2022

Thank you very much, Madam Deputy Speaker.

I rise on behalf of my constituents of Central Ayrshire to express our sympathies to the Royal Family and to pay respect to Her Majesty for her long service of three score years and 10, literally a biblical lifetime.

Being from Northern Ireland, for me, her greatest contribution was to peace and reconciliation on the island of Ireland. Both by bravely welcoming Martin McGuinness here in London, but also her state visit in 2011, which brought so much healing.

Madame Deputy Speaker, this debate has already woven the most important part of any funeral. The eulogy. And reminds me of the traditional wakes I grew up with, with the coffin lying in state in the living room, surrounded by family, friends, and neighbors.

What struck me then as a little girl was how the sadness gave way, once the funny stories started. Once the embarrassment, the talk of someone being on a chair in Blackpool singing at the top of their voice. These embarrassing stories changed the whole mood in the room that I observed as a five, six and seven year old. The somber tones were replaced by laughter, but strangely the coffin often also turned into a coffee table, covered in glasses.

Now, I don’t think Her Majesty is likely to face that indignity, but I remember my uncle saying that he aspired to being buried in a coffin with ring marks, because it would be a symbol of a really good wake, one that accepts that death is part of life. And one that celebrates not a life ended, but a life completed.

In the same way, this chamber has been lifted by so many funny stories that demonstrate Her Majesty’s great sense of fun. Both in public, such as the stunt at the Olympics or with Paddington bear or in private, many that we’ve heard from honourable and right honourable members today.

But the most illuminating are those which show how she used humour to put people at ease, out of kindness.

I think she’s probably delighted at the sheer amount of laughter that has been in this chamber over the last two days. And having walked the last journey with many of my patients over a lot of years, I know that virtually all of us would choose to die peacefully at home. And that’s exactly what the Queen did.

So we should take comfort from the fact that she ended her life peacefully and quietly at home, in her favourite place, Balmoral, surrounded by her family and loved ones. It doesn’t get better than that. So while we offer our sympathy and condolences to her family in their sorrow at her loss – for her, we should be glad.

She goes to her rest, welcomed once again into the arms of her beloved Philip. And no doubt already sharing a wry joke and probably at our expense.

So for Her Majesty, I simply pray: may she rest in peace.

About the author 

Heather Knox

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}