§ The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn) rose to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows:
§ "Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to express to Your Majesty the sympathy of this House in the loss which Your Majesty has sustained by the untimely death of Your sister, Her Royal Highness the Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, so close to the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of Your father. We also trust that Your Majesty will convey to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother our deep sympathy in Her tragic loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with Your Majesties, and with all of Your family, at this sorrowful time".
§ The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, Her Royal Highness the Princess Margaret was known and loved by many of your Lordships and I have personally been greatly moved by the extent and depth of your Lordships' desire to send this message of condolence to Her Majesty the Queen. We feel very keenly for the bereavement of the family, who have lost a beloved sister and a cherished mother and daughter.
§ The sadness which her death has brought bears witness to the joyful, exuberant way she lived her life. As a young woman of great beauty, she radiated a sense of fun and vitality that enchanted those who knew her. Throughout her public life, she remained loyal to the charities she chose to support: particularly the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the Royal Ballet, and the Guides. Her children were fortunate to experience her continuing support, encouragement and love, and in their mother's final years were able to repay some of that debt by supporting and sustaining her through her illness.
§ Princess Margaret will be missed greatly by her family, her friends, the people of this country and by many, many members of your Lordships' House. I know that the House will wish to add its own voice to the countless other voices raised in tribute to this most remarkable Princess by sending an humble Address to her Majesty in the following terms.
§ Moved. That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows:
§ "Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to 992 express to Your Majesty the sympathy of this House in the loss which Your Majesty has sustained by the untimely death of Your sister. Her Royal Highness the Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, so close to the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of Your father. We also trust that Your Majesty will convey to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother our deep sympathy in Her tragic loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with Your Majesties, and with all of Your family, at this sorrowful time".—(Lord Williams of Mostyn.)
§ 2.39 p.m.
§ Lord Strathclyde
My Lords, on behalf of the Opposition I support wholeheartedly the entirely appropriate Motion in the name of the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House. How fitting it is that an humble Address should be presented to Her Majesty at this sad time. All Peers, on all sides of the House, welcome the opportunity to express in this way our feelings of the deepest sympathy to Her Majesty the Queen. Additionally, I know that all of us will have been profoundly moved by the tragic sense of loss that must be felt by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
Her Royal Highness the Princess Margaret was well known to many Members of this House. I and many others recall the dignity with which she so often graced the State Opening of Parliament. As many have said, hers was a moving life: one that displayed the highest principles of duty and service to the nation; one adorned by rare talents, great courage and an incomparable sense of style; and one that brought into the lives of those who knew her, and to millions who did not, a light that will shine on for many years to come. She took particular delight in her sponsorship of the arts, a deep interest in music and the ballet and her involvement in children's charities.
Our hearts go out to the children of Her Royal Highness and to her whole family. I am pleased formally to second the Motion moved by the Leader of the House.
§ 2.41 p.m.
§ Baroness Williams of Crosby
My Lords, on behalf of these Benches, the Liberal Democrats would also very much like to be identified with the humble Address presented by the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House and to express our profound sympathy to Her Majesty the Queen and Her family.
Princess Margaret had an extraordinarily bright and inquiring mind. She gathered around her a whole range of people who were leading figures in their professions—in the arts, but also in philosophy, religion, and many other areas of life. She also had an amazingly sharp and shining wit— something to which her friends have paid great tribute during these past, difficult days.
As Lady Longford, pointed out, extremely incisively, she lived a life that bridged the period from a Royal Family that was surrounded by protocol and privacy to one that was indeed part of the public life of the nation, and had to suffer some of the difficulties of 993 living a life in a fishbowl that is characteristic of the modern Royal Family. She managed that not only with her wit and balance but with a strange strain of iconoclasm that is very much part of the modern world.
In passing our regrets to her family, and in particular to her children, one can say that perhaps the finest epitaph of all for Princess Margaret, who was not only a great public figure but a devoted mother, an amusing and charming aunt and a splendidly loyal sister, is that one can see that epitaph written in the devotion and dignity of her family at this most grievous time.
§ 2.43 p.m.
§ Lord Craig of Radley
My Lords, on behalf of these Benches I give wholehearted support to the humble Address. Her Royal Highness the Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, gave great service to the country and the Commonwealth. Her sense of duty was strong and her interests extraordinarily wide.
I should like to pay tribute to her involvement with the Armed Forces. Throughout her life she took a great deal of interest in the many units and formations that she visited. She had a special affection for HMS "Illustrious" and HMS "Norfolk". She was Colonel-in-Chief of the Light Dragoons, of the Royal Highland Fusiliers — Princess Margaret's own Glasgow and Ayrshire Regiment—of Princess Louise Fusiliers, the Highland Fusiliers of Canada, and of Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps. She was very closely involved with Royal Air Force Station Coningsby as its honorary air commodore over a period of almost 25 years. Those—and many more—associations with the three armed services in the United Kingdom and in the Commonwealth underlined her strong feelings of loyalty and support for these guardians of our freedoms.
Above all, we should remember her great love for the theatre and the ballet. Her interest in and enthusiasm for all the arts was exceptional, and she was extremely knowledgeable. Her ability to play the piano, and very well indeed, will never be forgotten by all who heard her perform. I join in expressing my deep sorrow and sympathy to all those—family and friends—who knew and admired Her Royal Highness. May she rest in peace.
§ 2.45 p.m.
The Archbishop of Canterbury
My Lords, it is with great sadness that I convey from these Benches the support of the Lords spiritual for the Motion.
Since Saturday, we have heard many tributes to Her Royal Highness, demonstrating the great love and affection with which she will be remembered. Her friends remind us of her great appetite for life and the joy that she brought to so many people through her love of the arts, of which we have been reminded, and her support for a great number of charities. Her family remind us that she was a much-loved mother, aunt and grandmother. Only a few days ago, she was enjoying a 994 birthday party for her grandson Arthur, surrounded by children and with balloons attached to her wheelchair—at the very heart of her family, as she was throughout her life.
For myself, I will remember a princess sustained by a real and firm faith in Almighty God. Indeed, we were looking forward so much to her joining us at Lambeth Palace tomorrow for the traditional Ash Wednesday service. In addition, throughout her life, she was a source of unfailing support and strength to her sister, Her Majesty the Queen. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the members of the family, especially her children, David and Sarah. We commend her to her Heavenly Father.
§ 2.46 p.m.
§ Lord St John of Fawsley
My Lords, to be a Member of this House is a great public privilege. I also enjoyed the private privilege of friendship with Princess Margaret over many years. An occasion like this is a serious and solemn one. But there is also joy amidst the sorrow, and I thank the leaders from all parts of the House who spoke for the felicitous way in which they expressed the mind of your Lordships.
I shall add what is really a personal footnote. Princess Margaret was a deeply serious person. Her central purpose in life was to support the institution of the monarchy. In all the years that I knew her, I never heard her utter a word about Her Majesty that was not loving, supportive and insighted. Her royal duties brought her great pleasure, comfort and fulfilment. She was a true professional when she was on the job. She prepared her homework, she did the job well, and she was received with joy wherever she went.
The ballet has been mentioned. Princess Margaret has every claim to be considered one of the creators of the modern Royal Ballet. It is not as though she went only to gala occasions: she went to every performance that she could, and she knew the names of all the children, the rising stars at the ballet school. She encouraged the directors and the dancers in difficult times.
As the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury said, the princess was a deeply religious person. She did not like matins, but she knew what the Eucharist was about. Anyone who saw her curtsy during the creed at the utterance of the sacred name had their faith uplifted and confirmed. She also had something that often goes with religion—a capacity for enjoyment, a joie de vivre. That is terribly important; if one loses that, one has lost everything. Who wants to be extinguished by a wet blanket'? It is a generous gift, because other people share in it, and they are made more— not less—themselves by it.
As I look back, on this solemn occasion, it is yet with joy that I look back to that happy, carefree person with her zest for life and her appreciation of the grand shine that lies on the surface of life. I see her on the edge of a dance floor, waiting to take part in the celebrations with the eagerness and anticipation of a young girl.
995 As noble Lords look back, we give thanks for the radiance and loveliness of that person, for her true and profound regality, for her luminous intelligence and for her sense of duty, perfectly balanced by her sense of fun. I recall Her Royal Highness today in this remarkable House in that way. I look backwards with the eyes of memory and forwards with the eyes of hope.
On Question, Motion agreed to nemine dissentiente.