On March 7, 2012, David Cameron, the UK’s Prime Minister paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth in the House of Commons on the occasion of mark her Diamond Jubilee.
The transcript is from Hansard, the official publication of the House’s of Parliament in the UK and where the full speech can be seen, and the video is from the Telegraph website.
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 reign of Queen Elizabeth has been one of unparalleled change, from rationing through to the jet age, to the space age, to the digital age.
Throughout this extraordinary change, the longest-lived monarch in our history has remained resolutely unchanged in her commitment and studious in her duties. It does not matter whether it is something we suspect she enjoys, like the highland games at Braemar, or things we suspect she might be less keen on, such as spending new year’s eve in the Millennium Dome, she never, ever falters. She has always done her duty, and this stability is essential for our national life.
While the sands of culture shift and the tides of politics ebb and flow, Her Majesty has been a permanent anchor, bracing Britain – bracing Britain against the storms, grounding us in certainty. 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.
According to one royal biographer, she has met 4 million people in person. That is equivalent to the entire population of New Zealand. At garden parties alone, she has invited some 2 million people to tea. She is, of course, Queen of 16 countries, and has surely travelled more widely than any other Head of State in history. Like her previous 11 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. And in all her realms, from Tuvalu to Barbados, from Papua New Guinea to St Vincent and the Grenadines, from Britain to Jamaica, she is loved because she is a Queen of everyone — for each of us and for all of us.
“Diamond” is I believe the appropriate epithet for this jubilee. For 60 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 all her people.
I came into politics because I love this country. I think its best days still lie ahead and I believe deeply in public service. And I think the service our country needs right now is to face up to our really big challenges, to confront our problems, to take difficult decisions, to lead people through those difficult decisions, so that together we can reach better times ahead.
One of the tasks that we clearly have is to rebuild trust in our political system. Yes that’s about cleaning up expenses, yes that is about reforming parliament, and yes it is about making sure people are in control – and that the politicians are always their servant and never their masters. But I believe it is also something else. It is about being honest about what government can achieve. Real change is not what government can do on its own – real change is when everyone pulls together, comes together, works together, where we all exercise our responsibilities to ourselves, to our families, to our communities and to others.
And I want to help try and build a more responsible society here in Britain. One where we don’t just ask what are my entitlements, but what are my responsibilities. One where we don’t ask what am I just owed, but more what can I give. And a guide for that society – that those that can should, and those who can’t we will always help.
I want to make sure that my government always looks after the elderly, the frail the poorest in our country. We must take everyone through with us on some of the difficult decisions we have ahead.
Above all it will be a government that is built on some clear values. Values of freedom, values of fairness, and values of responsibility.
I want us to build an economy that rewards work. I want us to build a society with stronger families and stronger communities. And I want a political system that people can trust and look up to once again.
This is going to be hard and difficult work. A coalition will throw up all sorts of challenges. But I believe together we can provide that strong and stable government that our country needs based on those values – rebuilding family, rebuilding community, above all, rebuilding responsibility in our country.
Those are the things I care about. Those are the things that this government will now start work on doing.