HL Deb 26 April 1948 vol 155 cc349-55

4.5 p.m.

THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (VISCOUNT ADDISON) rose to move to resolve, That an humble Address be presented to Their Majesties to congratulate Them on the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of Their Wedding; and to assure Their Majesties that this House, deeply interested in the personal well-being of the Sovereign and warmly appreciating Their Majesties' unfailing devotion to duty in this time of stress, profoundly shares the sentiments of loyal affection with which Their peoples throughout the world welcome the Anniversary of so felicitous a union; and joins with them in praying earnestly for the continuance during many years of Their Majesties' health and happiness. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, it is often the privilege of your Lordships' House to pay tribute; but there cannot, I think, have been an occasion for a message to the Sovereign that was more accompanied toy universal feelings of sincere congratulation than the event which we are met to honour to-day.

To-day's anniversary is one that appeals to all the people. Twenty-five years of married life, living and working together, with developing family ties and with constant devotion to the public service, evoke feelings in the nation that are difficult to express; tout they are feelings of gratitude and affection. And, my Lords, I cannot refrain from saying what an inspiration to Their Majesties during all this time must have been the life of Queen Mary, to whom we owe so much. These twenty-five years have nearly all been years of great anxiety—many of them of great danger. During that period the King and Queen, especially during their later years as Sovereigns, in: heir devotion to duty and despite enemy attacks, have been with the people all the time and have shared to the full heir vicissitudes. These things are remembered to-day; they are deep in the mind of the nation in its manifestation of affectionate good will.

Before long, Their Majesties are to visit Australia and New Zealand, those distant vital parts of our Commonwealth which are rendering such service to us to-day. We confidently expect that the strenuous days that will be theirs in this adventure will be successfully endured and will be as fruitful in good results as have been their visits to Canada and the Union of South Africa. Here again, we shall find, I think, evidence of the strength of that bond of common allegiance to the Crown which is so remarkable in our free association of independent nations.

It seems but yesterday that some of us saw the Queen as bridesmaid to Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal; and here we are celebrating the Silver Jubilee of her own Wedding. The years pass swiftly, and somehow we seem to live longer these days—some of us, at least. It may well be that some of your Lordships will join in a message of congratulation when a Silver has turned to a Golden anniversary. We hope that it may be so. To-day, we celebrate with them this twenty-fifth anniversary, and we ask Their Majesties to receive our message of grateful acknowledgment of what they have done for the nation, of our deep respect and of our good wishes for the time to come. I beg to move.

Moved, That an humble Address be presented to Their Majesties to congratulate Them on the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of Their Wedding; and to assure Their Majesties that this House, deeply interested in the personal well-being of the Sovereign and warmly appreciating Their Majesties' unfailing devotion to duty in this time of stress, profoundly shares the sentiments of loyal affection with which Their peoples throughout the world welcome the Anniversary of so felicitous a union; and joins with them in praying earnestly for the continuance during many years of Their Majesties' health and happiness.—(Viscount Addison.)

4.8 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to second the Humble Address of Congratulation to Their Majesties the King and Queen which has been moved by the Leader of the House on the occasion of their Silver Wedding. This is indeed a notable event. Too often, in the melancholy days in which we live, it is our duty to meet together to chronicle some grievous happening. Today we are met to rejoice over a great blessing that has been conferred upon our King and Queen and, through them, on our whole country.

My Lords, the Crown, as the Leader of the House indicated in his remarks, is the linchpin of the British Commonwealth. On the institution of monarchy depends not only the fundamental unity of our own country, but the very existence of that great association of free nations of which it is our privilege to be members. It is our chief pride that at a time when in other lands monarchy has tottered to its fall, it is here more firmly established than at any period in our long history. What is the explanation of this shining difference? It is not, I think, difficult to give the answer. It is largely to be found in the personality and character of our beloved King and Queen themselves. By their high sense of duty, by their kindliness and their thoughtful-ness, by their complete devotion to their people, by the simple happiness of their home life, they have endeared themselves personally to each one of their subjects throughout the British Commonwealth and Empire. Wherever they go, whether here in Britain or in their other Dominions overseas, they leave behind them a fragrant and enduring memory. The Crown becomes no longer a mere constitutional symbol, but the living embodiment of our affection and respect. Doubters—if indeed there be any—become loyal subjects, and loyal subjects become faithful friends.

That day, twenty-five years ago, which we celebrate this afternoon, should go down as one of the great dates in British history, for it gave us something of inestimable value to our country—a King and Queen who, in times of unexampled difficulty, have won the devotion of their whole people. They have shared in our joys. They have mourned with us in our sorrows. In the dreadful days of war, they have walked with us through the valley of the shadow of death. We owe them a debt which we can never repay. When this morning, in St. Paul's Cathedral, we sang those old words of the National Anthem: God save our gracious King, Long live our noble King, they were, to that great congregation, no empty or formal phrases. They were the heartfelt expression of our deepest feelings.

On behalf of those who sit on these Benches, may I, to use the time-honoured phrase, present our humble duty to Their Majesties on this most auspicious day. We thank them for all that they have done for us, and we wish them all happiness and prosperity in the years that are to come.

4.12 p.m.


My Lords, on behalf of my noble friends, I desire to support the Motion which is now before your Lordships' House. A Silver Wedding is a family occasion, and this is one upon which the nation may salute the Royal Family as a family. Indeed, the family note has been struck and emphasised by King George VI, as by his father, in all his addresses to his people. The nation is grateful for that, because we know that all through history it is the scrupulous devotion to and respect for the family as an institution which is one of the foundations of the strength and greatness of a nation. It is a common observation that there are many who, in the affairs of life, are prepared to offer to others every argument and to exercise every influence except one—their own example. It is not so in the case of Their Majesties. Queenship as well as kingship is a great office of State, and Her Majesty the Queen has performed its duties with a dignity and charm that has won her in equal degree respect and affection.

In the sunny weather of to-day, and with the shining and happy faces of the people along the streets, one can say that this is indeed a Silver Wedding. There is no alloy in it; there is no cupronickel about it. To-day is an example of the various ways in which Sovereigns may be joined with their peoples. As was proper the celebration began by the King and Queen and their family uniting with the leaders of the nation in a noble religious ceremony of thanksgiving in St. Paul's Cathedral. Then there are the drives through the streets of the capital, where they have been and will be acclaimed by the citizens. This evening, thanks to the most wonderful of all modern inventions, Their Majesties will be able to speak to all the citizens in their own homes, not only here in this country, but throughout the Commonwealth. It is right that Parliament, speaking for the people, should participate in these greetings, congratulations and thanks. For that reason, your Lordships' House will be proud and happy to submit the humble Address embodied in this Motion.

4.15 p.m.


My Lords, I am perhaps the only member of your Lordships' House who is called upon to speak twice in public on this day on the same theme. On this, the second, occasion, I trust it will be thought sufficient if, in the briefest manner, I associate myself and those for whom I speak with the Motion. A distant observer, whether in time or in space, might suppose that such a Motion and such a celebration as this are just a piece of formal Court etiquette of common form, without any particular significance. How completely wrong he would be! Perhaps it is only those of our own nation and Empire who can fully understand the intimate personal relation which binds Their Majesties to their people. That intimate relation is created partly by the people—at least, it could not exist without the people and it is created by their character; for it is true of us that we are never content to regard an office but always want to see who it is that holds the office and to judge the holder by those tables of measurement by which, as a people, we assess human worth and human value.

On the other hand, such a bond is created, and can only be created, by the persons of Their Majesties and the Royal Family. Indeed, as has been said, we as a people must be thankful for Their Majesties and for what they have meant and do mean to our nation. They have anticipated, they have recognised, they have responded to everything that the nation could desire of them; and that not by careful thought but by the innate genius of their own personality and character. Thus, giving themselves in ceaseless service, they have revealed themselves and, by revealing themselves, have won our hearts. So there has grown up a kind of bond which for those not of our own race and nation it, very hard to understand but which is essentially personal between the Throne and the people. The pageantry of Their Majesties' progress to St. Paul's Cathedral, and their return, the splendour of that great and simple service, and the dignity and the godliness of it all, lived, glowed, thrilled and moved us with emotion, because it was nothing remotely like a show, but was the expression of a sincerity which marks the Royal Family themselves as true in all things to themselves, to their people and to God, and which marks not less the sincerity of our own people who conceive for them such a great devotion and affection.

4.20 p.m.


My Lords, I feel that I must say one word in support of this Motion, if only because no Scot has yet spoken, and we of that country yield to no one in loyalty to and, if I may say so, affection for Their Majesties. The Queen in particular has a warm spot in the heart of everyone from North of the Border, being, as she is, a native of that country. My Lords, it has been said that every country has the Government that it deserves. I am not going to pursue that controversial subject, but I will say that we are extremely fortunate, not only in our monarchy in the past but in our King and Queen at the present time. When we were young we read fairy stones which invariably ended with the words: And the Prince married the Princess and lived happily ever after. The private life of the Royal Family is never so private as that of other mortals, and everyone in the world knows how really and truly happy Their Majesties have been during twenty-five years of perhaps the most turbulent time that we shall know in our history. We can only firmly wish that in the years to come they will have an equally happy married life and that that period will be, for their country, a far happier and more peaceful era.

4.22 p.m.


My Lords, Free Churchmen in humble duty desire to associate themselves wholeheartedly with all that has been so feelingly said this afternoon in congratulation to Their Majesties the King and Queen on the occasion of their Silver Wedding. We join in a thanksgiving to God for lives spared and lives given in the Royal Family during the past eventful twenty-five years. Their Majesties' married life has been of inestimable value to the nation as a shining example of the sacred-ness of home life and of family ties. We pray for them a continuance of the deepest joys of human life, and in ever increasing measure.

On Question, Motion agreed to nemine dissentiente.

4.23 p.m.


My Lords, it is proposed that on this happy occasion we should follow the precedent established when your Lordships' Humble Address of Congratulation to the King on the betrothal of Her Royal Highess Princess Elizabeth was presented by representative Privy Counsellors last November. His Majesty has signified his approval and appointed a time. The Address we have just passed will be presented to Their Majesties at Buckingham Palace on Thursday next, April 29, at 12.30 p.m., by the following Privy Counsellors, members of Your Lordships' House: The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor, the Marquess of Salisbury, the Viscount Samuel, the Earl of Rose-bery, and myself. An Order will be made to this effect and will appear in the Minutes of the House.

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