HL Deb 19 November 1953 vol 184 cc403-7

3.5 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty on the occasion of Her Majesty's departure with His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, to visit Australia, New Zealand, Ceylon, and certain of Her Majesty's Colonies and of the Territories under Her Majesty's Protection, conveying an assurance that Her Majesty will leave with the prayers of Her people in this country for a safe journey and a happy return; and, further, assuring Her Majesty that this House will follow the journey with deep interest and loyal affection.

The departure of our beloved Queen on this long and arduous journey to visit her peoples on the other side of the globe is, I am sure your Lordships will agree, a momentous event, not only for Her Majesty herself and for the Duke of Edinburgh, but for all of us, for it underlines two vital facts—the world-wide character of the British Commonwealth of Nations over which she presides, and the essential part which is played by the Crown in welding into a single unity this vast and infinitely varied association of races and peoples. I submit that it is of the first importance to free humanity, as a whole, that it should be so welded, for were the British Commonwealth to fall it is very doubtful whether free humanity could survive. Without the strong cement which is provided by loyalty to the Crown, it would, I believe, be only a short time before the British Commonwealth dissolved into its constituent parts.

Let us then recognise how immeasurable a responsibility rests upon the shoulders of our young Queen, for on the personal loyalty of her peoples the whole future of the free world may well depend. It is, as we all know, to the fulfilment of that responsibility that Her Majesty, both at her Coronation and before, has solemnly and publicly dedicated her whole life; and it is, one may be sure, in that same spirit of dedication that she sets forth on her journey next week. We may be certain, too, my Lords, that the results of this arduous tour on which she is embarking will be far-reaching and will strengthen the whole structure of our British family of nations. For, after all, if it is to mean anything, loyalty to the Crown, as I see it, must be personal loyalty, that is, loyalty to a person, and Her Majesty's personal presence in these far off lands will of itself give flesh and blood and life to the whole conception of monarchy, which is the very essence of the British Empire. At the outset of this great venture we send from this House to Her Majesty our loyal and devoted wishes for its success. By embarking on it, she adds to the debt which her peoples and the world owe to her. May God bless her and keep her, and give to her a happy journey and a safe return. I beg to move.

Moved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty on the occasion of Her Majesty's departure with His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, to visit Australia, New Zealand, Ceylon, and certain of Her Majesty's Colonies and of the Territories under Her Majesty's Protection, conveying an assurance that Her Majesty will leave with the prayers of Her people in this country for a safe journey and a happy return; and, further, assuring Her Majesty that this House will follow the journey with deep interest and loyal affection.—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)

3.10 p.m.


My Lords, we on this side of the House would desire to be entirely associated with the Message so happily proposed by the Leader of the House. It had been the earnest wish of His Late Majesty to undertake the tour upon which Her Majesty the Queen is about to embark. Having myself spent a month in Australia and a rather shorter time in New Zealand in 1951, I was able to realise at first hand the enthusiasm with which the peoples of those countries, countries so far away in distance but so near in sentiment and tradition, were looking forward to that visit. Providence ordained otherwise, and so it comes about that Her Majesty is carrying out the task which her father could not fulfil; and in that task she carries with her our earnest hope for a happy time and a safe return.

My Lords, we in this country have become so accustomed to the presence of the Royal Family in our midst that perhaps we hardly realise the intensity of the feelings of our brethren in those lands. They are longing to greet their own Queen in her own person, and to see with their own eyes those symbols and ceremonies appropriate to great State occasions which enshrine our common traditions and heritage. We know that she will rise to this great and historic occasion, and that her first tour as Queen will prove a memorable landmark in her reign. It must, however, be a source of anxiety for a young mother to leave behind her children of tender age, and we rejoice, therefore, that she will have with her the Duke of Edinburgh, who will prove a strong support and a sure shield. As the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, has said, Her Majesty has dedicated herself to the service of her peoples, and throughout her tour Her Majesty will find herself encompassed about by their hopes and by their prayers.

3.12 p.m.


My Lords, in the unavoidable absence of my noble friend Lord Samuel, I have the privilege to speak for the Liberal Peers in support of the humble Address that has been moved by the Leader of the House, and to wish Her Majesty God-speed on her forthcoming visit to Australasia and other countries of the Commonwealth and Empire.

In this troubled world there are few things so encouraging—I might say so consoling—as the unity, the poise and, on the whole, the sane thinking of the peoples of the Commonwealth. Their evolution in liberty, in spite of all the grave difficulties they have had to meet, and the example they afford of peaceful collaboration carry a message of hope to all the world. Her Gracious Majesty in Her own person is the symbol, the focal point so to speak, of all these hopes and ideals so widely shared in all five Continents. The simple dignity, the sincerity, and the unstudied perfection that she displayed in the Coronation ceremonies revealed her as supremely equipped to carry out this, the greatest of her Royal responsibilities. The visit of a reigning Monarch to Australia and New Zealand is a landmark in Commonwealth history. It is an even greater portent that for the first time the Head of the Commonwealth is to visit one of the great new Asiatic Dominions.

Her Majesty takes with her the assurance of our loyalty. She also takes with her our full confidence that this visit will strengthen the bonds of friendship and affection which already exist between the many peoples of the Commonwealth and Empire. We wish Her Majesty and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh a pleasant but, we hope, not too strenuous tour, and we look forward to their safe return in the Spring.

3.15 p.m.


My Lords, I wish to say only such few words as will suffice to show how wholeheartedly we on these Benches, and those for whom we speak, associate ourselves with the terms of this Motion. We, too, would assure Her Majesty that at every stage of her great journey she will be surrounded by the loyal and loving thoughts and prayers of her subjects in these Islands. Her absence from us will be felt by all of us. When our late King, of beloved memory, with his family, visited South Africa, it was the experience of us all, quite apart from our conscious thinking, that as we went about our ordinary affairs we were aware of something missing from the customary life of the community, of an unwonted lack, an unfamiliar lacuna, in the domestic circle of the country's life.

Her Majesty the Queen has held such a vivid and vital and dominating place during this year in the public life of this country; she has held such a personal and intimate place in the hearts and minds of every citizen; and such a volume of loyal devotion, aspiration and dedication has been centred upon her own person that we shall all more than ever, consciously and unconsciously, feel her absence as a weight upon our spirits until she returns. But we shall bear that weight the more patiently, and indeed cheerfully, because of two considerations, in particular. In the first place we shall have in our midst still the Queen Mother—not, indeed, Regent in any constitutional sense but, may I say, regnant, with all the powers of her own own lovely and devoted spirit, in our hearts to represent Her Majesty the Queen. Secondly, we rejoice that, on this journey, so large a part of the Commonwealth will share in the joy so well known to us of having the Queen in their midst.

Like the noble and learned Earl, I had the privilege of being in Australia and New Zealand at a time when a visit from the late King was still hoped for and expected, and one felt already, everywhere, the forward-looking spirit of electric enthusiasm and expectancy at the prospect of his visit. It is hard for anyone to answer adequately, or to satisfy fully, such an eagerness of expectation as will await the Queen when she reaches Australia and New Zealand; hard to satisfy, in the course of a brief visit of a day here and a day there—and, indeed, we pray that Her Majesty will not be overworked or overtired. Our joyful assurance lies in the certain knowledge that wherever she goes, and for however brief a visit, the Queen will, by her own splendour and grace, fully and utterly answer and exceed the highest expectations of all her subjects. In her giving of herself she will give to the uttermost, and by it the whole body of the Commonwealth will be ennobled and enriched.

We shall pray God that she and the Duke may be given strength to meet these great demands upon strength of body, mind and spirit. We shall pray that God may prosper them in their going out and in their coming in. We shall pray that the Queen may receive back, in her own happiness, enjoyment and enrichment, an abundant reward for all the happiness, enjoyment and enrichment that she will bestow. We shall pray that they may be brought back safely to their children and to their family. In this Royal journey may there be gloriously seen the harvest of the bygone days of this Commonwealth and a hope for its coming years.

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

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