HL Deb 28 January 1947 vol 145 cc164-8

2.38 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move to resolve, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty on the occasion of His Majesty's departure for the Union of South Africa, with Her Majesty the Queen and Their Royal Highnesses the Princess Elizabeth and the Princess Margaret, conveying to His Majesty an assurance that this House will follow Their journey with deep interest and loyal affection.

I am sure that the whole House will be in accord with the Resolution that I have the honour to move. I have before me a Report of your Lordships' proceedings for May 3, 1939, and on that occasion Earl Stanhope, the Leader of the House, moved a similar Resolution on the occasion of the first visit of a British Sovereign to a self-governing member of the Commonwealth—namely, the visit to the Dominion of Canada. This is therefore the second occasion on which we are privileged to approve a resolution of this kind. I suggest to your Lordships that the forthcoming visit of Their Majesties and the Princesses to South Africa is an event of great significance. Many noble Lords now in this House can, I imagine, cast their minds back to the time when we were in conflict in that great country. But then we also remember the passage of the South Africa Act only some thirty-six years ago—a great act of British statesmanship which has been followed by the rallying to our help in two great wars of the Union of South Africa with all the assistance it could bring. This is, I think, a unique example of a Sovereign visiting a self-governing Dominion with a history of that remarkable kind.

Their Majesties will undertake a long journey which will be to some extent an arduous one. They are proposing to visit the territories not only of the Union of South Africa but of Southern Rhodesia, the High Commission territories of Basutoland, the Bechuanaland Protectorate and Swaziland, and even to go beyond the Zambezi to Northern Rhodesia. It is a remarkable journey. I am sure that all your Lordships wish that Their Majesties and their family may be in good health throughout this long journey and that they may endure any trials and difficulties it may entail with their accustomed understanding and aptitude, and their accustomed response to the appeal of the people to their hearts. Its result, I am certain, will be an even further strengthening of the links between that great self-governing Dominion and all those territories and ourselves. I am sure that all your Lordships will wish Their Majesties a pleasant journey, a happy journey, a successful mission and a safe return.

Moved to resolve, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty on the occasion of His Majesty's departure for the Union of South Africa, with Her Majesty the Queen and Their Royal Highnesses the Princess Elizabeth and the Princess Margaret, conveying to His Majesty an assurance that this House will follow Their journey with deep interest and loyal affection.—(Viscount Addison.)

2.40 p.m.


My Lords, I rise to express the heartwhole support of those who sit on these Benches of the Resolution of loyal affection to Their Majesties the King and Queen, which has been moved by the Leader of the House on the occasion of their departure for South Africa. It is indeed, I think, hardly necessary for the Leaders of the other Parties to add to 'what he has so well said. He spoke for us all. In our loyalty to the Crown there are in this country no Party differences. We are all, whatever our Party views, His Majesty's devoted subjects and servants. We wish Their Majesties well, with all our hearts, on this historic journey. During the last troubled years, they have won the deep, abiding affection and respect of the people of this country by their graciousness, their kindliness and their innate sympathy and understanding.

We can ill spare them even for these few months, but we recognize that His Majesty is not only King of Great Britain; he is King also of the Union of South Africa and all those other territories to which the Leader of the House referred in his speech. We, whose privilege it is to be citizens of his metropolitan Dominion, appreciate that he has duties to his loyal subjects in the Dominions overseas. It is right that he who is, after all, the keystone of the edifice of the Commonwealth, should visit them and get to know them in their homes, and see for himself their problems on the spot. I think it is also fitting that he, whose home life is a pattern to his people, should take with him the Queen and the Princesses. We do not doubt that they will make themselves as greatly beloved there as here. As I think the Leader of the House has already said, this is the first occasion upon which a British King and his family have visited the Southern Dominions. That is a momentous event, the precursor, one may hope, of many other such visits in the future. On this historic occasion we wish them a happy and prosperous journey and we bid them God-speed.

2.43 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lords on these Benches desire to associate themselves wholeheartedly with the Resolution that has been moved by the Leader of the House. The terms of that Resolution I think are singularly well chosen. It specifies the deep interest and the loyal affection with which your Lordships will follow the journey of Their Majesties and the Princesses through South Africa. Anything that is likely to renew and strengthen the intangible ties that bind together the British Commonwealth, as this journey will surely do, must command the close concern and the deep interest of your Lordships' House. The loyalty of the Parliament and people is the strength of our Constitution, because it promotes and ensures the stability of the State. The affection of the people for His Majesty and the Royal Family is strong and real because it is felt to be mutual. All who have listened to his broadcast addresses at Christmas-time will realize that His Majesty feels for the people a deep personal affection, and that affection on his side evokes a response on theirs. He speaks always of the Nation as a wider family. It is indeed with these feelings of deep interest, loyalty and affection that your Lordships' House will watch the progress of His Majesty and the Queen and the Princesses through the Dominion of South Africa and the adjoining territories.


My Lords, in the very briefest terms, I wish wholeheartedly to associate myself, and those for whom I may speak, with all that has been so admirably said in support of this Motion. Their Majesties have so identified themselves with the interests of their people and have so endeared themselves to us all that their absence, even for so short a time, can be no light matter for us. But, as has been said, it is perhaps good for us to be reminded by such an event as this that the King does not belong to us alone but belongs equally to all the Dominions of which he is, in their separate identities, King also. By this visit the King will render a signal service to the Commonwealth and to those highest ideals which the Commonwealth exists to serve. When I was in Canada last autumn it was both a moving and an inspiring thing to see how vividly the memory of the Royal visit of 1939 dwelt in the thoughts and in the conversation of all kinds of people, and how profoundly they felt that the kinship between themselves and us had been perfectly expressed in the character, the personality, and the grace of Their Majesties. And so it is that we pray God that, in this visit, Their Majesties and the Royal Princesses may have a good journey, may have health and strength to stand the very great strain of a most exacting programme, may find spiritual refreshment in the loyalty and affection which will everywhere greet them, and, a happy and fruitful mission having been accomplished, may have a safe return.

On Question, Motion agreed to nemine dissentiente; the said Address to be presented to His Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.

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