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Mr. Michael Howard (Folkestone and Hythe): On 1 August 1979, Her Majesty the Queen Mother was installed as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, in succession to Sir Robert Menzies. As I have the honour to represent the constituency that contains two of the original cinque portsHythe and RomneyI am grateful for the opportunity to say a few words about the enormous contribution that the Queen Mother made to our part of the realm in her capacity as Lord Warden.
The origin of the Confederation of the Cinque Ports goes back at least to the reign of King Edward the Confessor, and the office of Lord Warden is almost as ancient. The Lord Warden has many privileges: as the letters patent record, the Lord Warden is entitled, among other things, to
Those duties were many and various. They included the responsibility of ensuring that beached whales were given a proper burial, and that at least one tooth from each beached whale was extracted and sent to the natural history museum, so that the whale could be properly identified. The House will understand that the duty was not one that the Lord Warden was required to carry out personally, but I know that the Queen Mother always took a keen interest in the results of the researches of the natural history museum.
The Queen Mother came every year to Walmer castle, and she always took the opportunities offered by her visits to east Kent to visit schools and carry out all sorts of other responsibilities and duties. Those included the opening of
My abiding memory of the Queen Mother is of her officiating at the unveiling of the battle of Britain memorial. That took place on the top of the cliffs at Capel on the boundary of my constituency. It was a dreadful day. The rain came down in sheets and most of us felt that the wind was hurricane force at least. We all huddled in the rather precarious protection of tents but the Queen Mother, apparently oblivious to the weather, went from one tent to another, radiating charm, making sure that she met everyone and illuminating the greyest of days with the magic of her personality. She will be much missed throughout the realm, and especially in east Kent. She will always be remembered.
John Thurso (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross): All those who have spoken today have expressed more eloquently than I can Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's immense contribution to our national life and to the national stage. She showed courage, zest for life, a sense of duty and devotion, and, above all, gentle leadership for almost a century. She was an exemplary human being.
I should like to pay a parochial, partisan tribute to her on behalf of myself and my constituents. It is hard to put into words the affection that she felt for Caithness and that the people of Caithness felt for her. It was partly based on her obvious commitment to duties in the constituency, which were small when judged on a national scaleopening the harbourmaster's office in Scrabster or visiting Caithness Glassbut none the less greatly appreciated. It was partly based on the evident joy that she took in attending local events, such as her annual visit to the Society of Caithness Artists or the Mey games. I once witnessed her consoling a team of German motor cyclists who had been beaten in the tug of war by the motley crew of footmen and equerries from the Castle of Mey.
Above all, the fact that, once a year, she came among us in Caithness and was our very special royal engendered great affection. Her Majesty warmly reciprocated the feelings of the people of Caithness. That was partly because the Castle of Mey was the only home that she owned herself. She first saw it in 1952 when it was about to fall down. Indeed, she told me that the occupants were in one room and the sheep were in the other. She bought it, took it over and restored it over a period of three or four years. She did it all herself.
Her Majesty made many happy visits with the late Hetty Munro to the Ship's Wheel in Thurso. That antique shop no longer exists but she bought several antiques there. It may be coincidence but my family home was demolished at roughly that time. I like to imagine that I might recognise the odd piece in the Castle of Mey. She enjoyed it enormously and later added Longoe farm where she became a tremendous connoisseur of stock. She understood Aberdeen Angus cattle and north country Cheviot sheep. The societies for those breeds were immensely grateful for and encouraged by her patronage over the years. She was a keen stockman and I am told
The castle was her home. She brought a warmth and friendliness to that house, which all those who ever went into it will never forget. The other part of our challenge is to meet her vision of keeping the house in good order and of retaining the feeling of warmth and friendliness in it.
Queen Elizabeth brought a special warmth and light to everyone she ever met; it was her great gift. We in Caithness will particularly miss her; I will miss her. She touched all our lives, but above all today, we thank God for her life, for her tremendous service to her country and for her great sense of humour. Whatever journey she is on, we wish her well.
Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother was a freeman of the city of Dundee on two countsas the Queen and Empress of India, and as the Colonel-in-Chief of the Black Watch, which is the home regiment of Dundee, Tayside, Angus and Fife. Indeed, the castle of Glamis lies across the Sidlaws in the beautiful vale of Strathmore. The valley and the whole area was connected by her affiliation and association with the regiment, which played its part in all of Britain's campaigns, especially during the first world war when she lost family, and while others in her family were closely associated with it. As Colonel- in-Chief, she was well received in Dundee during her many visits in that guise.
I also pay tribute to her time as chancellor of the university of Dundee. As a graduate of the city of Dundee's university, I was proud and very aware of her prime role during her three decades as chancellor, and of the way in which she handled events at the university, presiding over graduation ceremonies and the subsequent garden parties, at which I had the opportunity to meet her.
During her long association with Dundee, she played a vital part in an organisation that is probably not well known in this Chamber: the Lord Roberts workshop. The workshop was created after the first world war to employ disabled people and disabled service men in building furniture, giving them a useful life following the suffering of the great war. The Queen Mother kept up that connection over a span of five decades and was involved in its joining the Royal National Institute for the Blind in the 1990s to create Dovetail Ltd.
One of the major events in the changing life of the city with which the Queen Mother was involved was the opening of the Tay bridge in 1965, over which she presided. The bridge made an immense difference to the centre of the city of Dundee. As a consequence, I was again able to meet her briefly when I was chair of a
In response to a letter from our committee asking her to make a donation or to become involved in the restoration of the Victorian bandstand, we received a personally written letter from her saying that she had seen the bandstand on many occasions while crossing the Tay rail bridge, was very aware of its poor state and would be happy to make a contribution and be involved in the restoration. One of her ladies-in-waiting presented a small gift for the raffle, and we received pictures by people such as one of her favourite artists, Mackintosh Patrick, helping us to raise the £100,000 needed to restore the bandstand to its Victorian grandeur.
As a sign of respect, we invited the Queen Mother during one of her visits to the area to preside over the dedication of the bandstand in 1991. It was a very wet day, and as she was not as young as she had been, we created an indoor event around the rededication of the bandstand, with a small band, flowers and children. At the end, as the Queen Mother was being moved away by her personal detective and her ladies-in-waiting, she insisted on spending time with the children who made up the band, to say a little word of thanks for their efforts on behalf of the restoration. That reflects the way in which she looked at things, the detail with which she tackled projects and her personal touch.
It was no mistake that the Queen Mother was called the Rose of Glamis. Although she came from a rural area, her smiling face was able to conquer the hearts of the rough diamonds of the east end and tame the rough spirits in Dundee. I am glad to have the opportunity to pay my respects. I know that the Lord Provost of the city of Dundee has been invited and will attend the funeral next week. I pay my respects on behalf of the citizens of Dundee to one of the longest-serving freemen on two counts.