HL Deb 07 December 1961 vol 236 cc159-63

My Lords, it is my duty to move in the terms of the Motion on the Paper that an Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, assuring Her Majesty of the loyal and affectionate welcome of this House to Her Majesty, on the occasion of Her return from Her tour of West Africa with His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.

My Lords, the Queen is home: home, safe and well, from a strenuous tour in which she has once more won the hearts and affections of all the peoples she has visited—this time, Ghana, where she paid her visit, deferred two years ago before the birth of Prince Andrew; Sierra Leone, now newly independent; Liberia, foreign but friendly soil; Gambia, still, and still proud to be, a territory under the British flag. My Lords, Prince Philip has gone on to Tanganyika, and in congratulating Her Majesty on a successful tour, I know your Lordships would expect me to extend those congratulations to him, and to wish him all success and a safe return.

The last time this Motion was moved —in 1956, I think—my noble friend Lord Home said: Her Majesty's radiant vitality converts every occasion into a festival of joy. Her Majesty always does this. But each time, the extent of her success warms our hearts anew. My Lords, this should be seen as a personal triumph for Her Majesty and Prince Philip. But after all the anxieties which were expressed before Her Majesty went away, I think there is something less formal that I would wish to say to-day. The success of the tour shows us in a peculiar degree how much respect we owe to Her Majesty's sense of duty and occasion. Occasionally something happens which makes us feel quite poignantly how much the Queen means to us both personally and as the wearer of the Crown under whose majesty we dwell in peace together. For this reason I do not myself regret that the tour, which has now concluded so happily, was the occasion of anxious thought before it began. I was one of those who never doubted the duty of Her Majesty's servants to advise her to undertake the task she has so brilliantly performed. But the fact that on this occasion the question was asked, and had to be answered, made us realise all the more clearly two facts which perhaps we take too much for granted.

The first is that the Crown is not merely an appanage of the United Kingdom. Her Majesty is Queen and Head of the Commonwealth, very much a Queen, and none the less so because by tradition she takes the advice of Her Ministers. Therefore, they, in advising her, must remember what they owe to her as Queen and as trustees not only for our people here but for all who look to her for inspiration and leadership. The second is that in tendering advice and in taking responsibility, as they do, Ministers must never fail to pay their personal tribute to Her Majesty's own sense of what becomes herself and is appropriate to her royal dignity and honour. My Lords whatever we may have felt, she never doubted, and it is as well that people should know and admire the extent of her own unflinching wisdom and sagacity.

My Lords, Her Majesty is with us again. For myself and for all your Lordships I think I may say with renewed loyalty and service, God save The Queen! I beg to move.

Moved, That an Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, assuring Her Majesty of the loyal and affectionate welcome of this House to Her Majesty, on the occasion of Her return from Her tour of West Africa with His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh.—(Viscount Hailsham.)


My Lords, I can assure the noble and learned Viscount who moved this Motion, and the House, of the complete and enthusiastic support for it from this side of the House. We recognise that Her Majesty has had a most strenuous tour and one which, in the circumstances, might have deterred many people. The noble and learned Viscount has referred to the different countries the Queen has visited; and the fact that she has paid all those visits within such a short time has, of course, added very much to the strenuousness of the tour. We are delighted that it has been, as we know, a great success. It has brought Her Majesty close to the hearts and the minds of the people of the different countries, and when they talk about Great Britain and the mother country, I think the fact of Her Majesty's visit and of their having seen her at first hand and at close quarters will bring this country much nearer to them than it has been as an abstraction.

The noble and learned Viscount said that he never had any doubts as to the desirability of this visit. Some doubts were expressed. I can tell him that certainly my noble friends and I never had any doubts as to the desirability of it. We admire the Queen for having undertaken it with all the doubts that had been expressed, but we ourselves felt that it was the right thing and we are very glad that she undertook it. We should like to congratulate her on her safe return and to express our very great thankfulness both for this and for the success of the visit.

3.13 p.m


My Lords, I rise from these Benches to support very wholeheartedly on behalf of my colleagues and myself this humble Address of loyal and affectionate welcome. In the last century, in which a number of your Lordships were doubtless horn, it would, I suggest, have been unsuitable, if not unthinkable, to present to the Monarch of that day an Address which described our sentiments not only as "loyal" but as "affectionate". Such an expression, I suggest, would doubtless have been considered derogatory to the majesty of the Monarchy, and as savouring of disrespect and even of levity. But to-day the inclusion of the word affectionate "is indicative of the even greater regard and value in which we hold our Sovereign, and the recent absence of Her Majesty from this country has, I believe, brought two particular sentiments to the fore in the minds and hearts of all her people here at home.

The first is our deep admiration of her unselfish devotion to her Royal duties and her highminded, personal courage and readiness to face the very arduous and responsible status of an ambassador of good will—an ambassador, indeed, of her own Monarchy and own personality, but also an ambassador of all of us, her subjects and her Parliament in her Kingdom here.

The second sentiment is, I suggest, that when Her Majesty is not here among us we feel a real state of suspense and a lack of completeness until she safely returns home to our affectionate and loyal keeping. We welcome with great warmth the return of Her Majesty and of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh to these shores, and I am sure that I express the feelings of us all in hoping that she may now enjoy a happy period of restful relaxation and felicity at this Christmas season, reunited with her family and so secure in the admiration and affection of her subjects throughout the land.


My Lords, it is for me a happy thing that my first speech in this House—if a few sentences can be called a speech —should be made in connection with the return of Her gracious Majesty and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh from their tour abroad. I have spent the last three weeks or so in India—indeed, I was there last night at 10 o'clock. There, the tour of Her Majesty has been followed with closest interest and admiration. What is true of India is true of the whole British Commonwealth of nations. Throughout the world the quiet equanimity, the dignity and the faithfulness to duty of these Royal ambassadors have called for praise on all hands. I am more than proud to be able to take my share in joining in this expression of gratitude and welcome home to Her Majesty, and of good wishes for success in Tanganyika and a safe return to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.


My Lords, may a back bencher be allowed in one sentence to add a tribute of our admiration, our gratitude and our loving loyalty?

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