Party leaders praise the Queen at 80
THE Prime Minister today led Commons tributes to the Queen ahead of her 80th birthday on Friday, offering “cordial congratulations” of the House and expressing appreciation of her “unfailing devotion to the duties of state, the nation and the Commonwealth.
By Graham Dines
THE Prime Minister today led Commons tributes to the Queen ahead of her 80th birthday on Friday, offering “cordial congratulations” of the House and expressing appreciation of her “unfailing devotion to the duties of state, the nation and the Commonwealth.”
Mr Blair said: the Queen was one of the most “respected people of our times” who had served the country with “extraordinary grace and dedication”' and had been a “truly remarkable source of constancy and of strength.”
Mr Blair said the Queen had undertaken more than 256 official overseas visits to 129 countries. “Her Majesty shows no sign of slowing down. She has just undertaken what is her 14th tour of Australia, including the official opening of the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, she attends literally hundreds of public engagements every year and is an active patron of over 600 charities and organisations.”
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“I am the tenth Prime Minister to serve her and like each of my predecessors I am profoundly grateful for her wise council. She has superb judgment and intuitive empathy with people and, above all, an unshakeable and profound sense of duty.
“It is this sense of duty which motivates her, defines her reign and, since it communicates itself unobtrusively but nonetheless obviously to her subjects, brings her, I believe, the love of the people of this country.”
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Tory leader David Cameron said anyone's 80th birthday is a matter for rejoicing “but this landmark in the life of Queen Elizabeth who has reigned over our country so wisely and for so long is a genuine cause for national celebration.
“She has been our Queen for 54 years. Through 1,000 years of British history, only Queen Victoria, George III, Henry III and, by a few months, Edward III have sat on the throne for a greater period.”
The Queen had reigned through a time of incredible change, including the dismantling of empire, joining the European Community, the ending of the Cold War and the new millennium. “She has been a rock of stability, calm and good sense in a period of the most turbulent change.
”I had my first meeting with Her Majesty as Leader of the Opposition just a few weeks ago. As you try and explain what you are up to, you are acutely conscious that she has heard it all before and seen it all before.
"Her first Prime Minister was Winston Churchill. Her first Leader of the Opposition was Clement Attlee. I am the 19th leader of the Opposition the Queen has had to meet.
“I am sure that, like others, Her Majesty has no doubt noticed that this number has increased all too frequently in recent years. However, she was as ever far too polite to point this out.”
'Sir Menzies Campbell, leader of the Liberal Democrats, described the Queen as not only our Head of State but was “the embodiment of the nation.”
Sir Ming added: “I particularly remember how her coronation after the tragic death of King George VI marked the passing of an era and the drawing of a curtain over post-War Britain. Her Silver Jubilee and the Golden Jubilee which followed were marked by the warmth and affection of the people of Great Britain.
“Her Majesty has truly shown herself to be a steadfast guardian of the people, of the Commonwealth and of our democratic traditions. When we celebrate her birthday, we celebrate the values which have illuminated her life.”
The Rev Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party said: “One of the greatest blessings of our nation is our beloved Queen who is so youthful in her soul. She brings to us all a pleasantness of youthfulness of spirit. What a privilege to have such a monarch. We have been specially blessed as a nation with such a Queen.”