HL Deb 12 May 1947 vol 147 cc564-9

2.38 p.m.

VISCOUNT ADDISON rose to move to resolve, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty assuring His Majesty on the occasion of his return from the Union of South Africa, of the loyal and affectionate welcome of this House to His Majesty, to Her Majesty the Queen, and their Royal Highnesses the Princess Elizabeth and the Princess Margaret. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I am sure the whole House will join heartily in support of the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. It rejoices all of us, I am sure, that Their Majesties were able to return to this capital city with the sun shining. It was very different from the morning, one of the grimmest of our grim winter, when they set off on their long journey.

It has been a notable journey. It is the first tune in history that a reigning British Monarch has visited the Union of South Africa. And how notable that is those of us who are old enough to remember the incidents of forty and fifty years ago will appreciate, when we realize that His Majesty has visited the Union as King of South Africa, and in that capacity has been recognized gladly by all. Their Majesties and the Princesses have had a long journey, and have visited all parts of the Union, the Rhodesias, and the Protectorates, Basutoland, Bechuanaland, and Swaziland; and it was perhaps especially remarkable, as those who remember history before the beginning of the century will agree, that His Majesty was received with immense acclaim by great gatherings of Zulus in Zululand—another of those strange and dramatic events in the history of the Commonwealth which I should think are unequalled in the history of any other State.

Their Majesties, as we know, have endured the fatigue of their journey and have performed their duties with energy, as we should have expected, and in a manner that must have won the admiration of all. Holding the office that I do, it is my business to receive the comments of experienced observers, and I can say, with absolute faithfulness, that the records are unanimous that in all parts of South Africa, from all races, the reception of Their Majesties has been conspicuously friendly and marked with immense good will. This journey, I am quite sure, will be found to have contributed greatly to strengthening those invisible bonds which bind our Commonwealth together. We are glad to congratulate Their Majesties on their safe return; we welcome them back, particularly, as it happens that today is the tenth anniversary of Their Majesties' Coronation. I beg to move.

Moved to resolve, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty assuring His Majesty on the occasion of his return from the Union of South Africa, of the loyal and affectionate welcome of this House to His Majesty, to Her Majesty the Queen, and to their Royal Highnesses the Princess Elizabeth and the Princess Margaret.—(Viscount Addison.)


My Lords, on behalf of the noble Lords who sit on these benches, I should like to associate myself with the sentiments which have been expressed by the noble Viscount who leads this House. It is a matter of regret that both the Marquess of Salisbury and Viscount Swinton are prevented, by circumstances that are quite beyond their control, from occupying the position that has fallen to me to-day. On their behalf, I beg to express their regrets to your Lordships. To-day is, indeed, a happy day for Britain. To have our beloved Royal Family again in the centre of their Dominions, and in our midst, is a matter of pride as well as of gratification to us and to the people of this country, who, so far as they have been able, have demonstrated, both to-day and yesterday, their great joy at Their Majesties' return. We beg to join in expressing to Their Majesties not only our loyal affection, but the sense of pride which we have shared with the people of the Union of South Africa, the Commissioned Territories and the Rhodesias, as we have followed, day by day, Their Majesties' triumphant though laborious tour.

They have never spared themselves—that, indeed, is their custom and their tradition. They are the visible bond and the symbol that bind together the people of this Empire, and these last few months of personal contact with so many people—people of such diverse origins and, indeed, colour—to all of whom His Majesty is King, have further strengthened the fellowship on which our Empire rests. We, in this country, think always of the Royal Family as a family. Their Majesties have done much, both by precept and example, to show us how greatly they value family ties, and we have watched with delight the way in which Their Royal Highnesses, the two Princesses, by their charm and simplicity, have helped to make this the most successful of Royal tours. In humble duty, we beg to offer our welcome, as well as our congratulations, to their Majesties on their return to these shores.


My Lords, noble Lords on these Benches wish to participate wholeheartedly in the Resolution moved by the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House. Parliament again has occasion to thank Their Majesties for another great service rendered to the Commonwealth. We rejoice at the unqualified success of this journey which was completed two hours ago by their return to their home. We have followed, with close interest and the greatest pleasure, the reports that have reached us of the enthusiastic welcome which was given to Their Majesties by the varied peoples of South Africa and the Rhodesias, spontaneous and heartfelt as that welcome was, as the Secretary of State for the Dominions has reported to us to-day. The people were happy to welcome the King and Queen and the two Princesses, for they soon saw that the Royal Family were happy to visit them. We all know of individuals who seem to make a duty of their pleasures, but there are some who make a pleasure of their duties, and duty so done is twice as efficacious.

As the noble Viscount, Lord Addison, has said, those of us who are old enough to have taken part in the controversies over South Africa fifty' years and forty years ago, are happy to have lived to see the success of this journey of good will and reconciliation, and to have seen one of the leading protagonists of those days, Field-Marshal Smuts, in health, vigour and authority, presiding over it. This journey fittingly rounds off the decade since Their Majesties' Coronation, of which to-day is the anniversary. Looking back, we realize that the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth have indeed been fortunate in our Sovereigns. Not only has His Majesty observed absolute constitutional propriety in all political matters—we are so long accustomed to that that we take it for granted—but he has also finely represented the spirit of the nation, by his imperturbable courage and endurance during the seven years' ordeal through which we have all passed. Not least important among the public services of the King and Queen has been the example of their private lives. So loyalty is combined with personal respect, and respect is combined with affection. Behind them stands the Throne, stately and august, around it the aura of a thousand years of history. But Their Majesties, as their people see them, are persons rather than personages; not aloof, separate, indifferent, but—as we saw in South Africa—human, accessible, sympathetic, and belonging to those of whom one of our present-day poets has written: Who watch the world with pity and pride, And warm to all mankind.

2.5o p.m.


My Lords, on behalf of the spiritual Peers I wish briefly to associate myself with and to endorse, all that has been so admirably said in the speeches to which you have already listened. The deepest joys in human life come from the sight of or the sharing in the perfect doing of some matter; and the greater the matter the deeper the joy. Their Majesties' visit to South Africa, from beginning to end, has been as near perfection as can be given to any human undertaking. All who have been their hosts in every part of South Africa, without distinction of nationality or race, have conspired to make it perfect; but they have found their will and power to make it so transformed and transported beyond their own foreseeing by that which their Majesties showed themselves to be, so that what might have been a great ceremonial visit became a personal conquest and a creative act of concrete loyalty and good will.

It is the genius of Their Majesties to make their Royalty a perfect expression of that which Royalty truly symbolizes by the simplicity with which they enhance the dignity of their office, by the sincerity and kindness of their interest in every kind of person and in everything which concerns them, by the grace of their personal touch, by their ready sympathy, and by their genuine enjoyment of other people's happiness as part of their own. It was to these personal qualities that South Africa and all its peoples gave their enthusiastic response of admiration and affection; and not only to their Majesties but, as has been truly said, to the Princesses who played their notable part in the success of this occasion. Indeed, in a special way, it was a response to the Royal Family as such, abiding in their midst parents and daughters. It is an added perfection to this memorable mission that South Africa saw, and rejoiced in seeing, a family which so perfectly expresses the graces and the sanctities of family life, and therein touches the truest, the most enduring, and the most universal of all human emotions.

Neither South Africa nor we shall ever forget the bond of unity created between us by the fact that it was on South African soil that the Princess Elizabeth came of age, and that from the South African soil she made to the whole Commonwealth, in profoundly moving terms, her vow of dedication to its service. So, with proud and full and grateful hearts, we welcome Their Majesties and their Royal Highnesses home, happy, as South Africa is happy, and as I am sure Their Majesties' must most deservedly be happy, to know that a great undertaking has been accomplished to perfection.

2.53 p.m.


My Lords, with our humble duty to His Majesty the King, the vast body of Free Churchmen, not alone in this country but throughout the entire Empire and Commonwealth, would desire to be associated with the tribute of loyalty and affection that has been so eloquently expressed in your Lordships' House this afternoon. We gratefully acknowledge the invaluable influence of the Crown in Commonwealth relations, but, most of all, we pay our tribute to Their Majesties for their influence and example in the sphere of home life and for the emphasis they continue to place upon the sacredness of the family circle. We have followed their eventful journey with our prayers; and now we unite in thanking God for their safe return, and wish for them and Their Royal Highnesses, the two Princesses, God's peace and joy in ever-increasing measure. On Question, Motion agreed to, nemine dissentiente: the said Address to be presented to His Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.