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Wednesday, 3 April, 2002, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
Tory leader's tribute in full
Iain Duncan Smith
Duncan Smith: The Queen Mother was "the best of us"
This is a full transcript of Conservative Leader Iain Duncan Smith's tribute in the House of Commons to the Queen Mother on Wednesday.

Mr Speaker, all of us on this side of the House concur entirely with the tribute the Prime Minister has paid to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

Our thoughts and prayers today are with Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family, particularly because in this, her Golden Jubilee year, Her Majesty has had to suffer the death of her sister and now her mother within a matter of weeks.

Fifty years ago, Sir Winston Churchill stood in the right honourable gentleman's place as the House gathered to mourn the death of the King.

When her country needed it most, she gave her inner strength and her wonderful personality

He said of the King during the last War: "The fate and fortunes of the whole nation and of his realms were centred not only in his office but in his soul."

He went on to say: "That was an ordeal which he could not have endured without the strong, loving support of his devoted and untiring wife and Consort".

'Enormous debt'

Sir Winston Churchill was more aware than anyone of the service the Queen Mother gave to our nation.

All of us owe an enormous debt of gratitude to a woman who played such a vital part in defending our liberty and our democracy.

We tend to think of great figures in our history as victorious generals, influential thinkers or inspiring national leaders.

The Queen Mother's great contribution to our nation was different and special. She did not lead successful military campaigns, or inspire through speeches or transform the nation directly.

But by standing resolute in the face of danger beside her husband the King and her country; and by providing a loving family in which her children and grandchildren could grow up she made a contribution that was no less enduring.

In this, the Queen Mother shared the attitude of millions of British soldiers, public servants, and private citizens whose service to future of courage, love and devotion.

'Embodying good'

When her country needed it most, she gave her inner strength and her wonderful personality.

In doing so she embodied what is good and noble about the people of our country.

As the Prince of Wales said in his moving tribute to his grandmother: "She understood the British character and her heart belonged to this ancient land and its equally indomitable and humorous inhabitants".

From the Queen Mother we learn that character and inner strength can be a formidable anchor during times of change

Queen Elizabeth's life embraced a century of tumultuous change.

When she was born, the motor car was still an uncommon sight on our streets. By the time she died, people thought nothing of flying to the other side of the world.

It was a century of enormous technological advance, from communications to medicine. A century that produced penicillin and the internet, but also two world wars and the atomic bomb.

It was a century in which democracy flourished, but was regularly threatened by regimes of monstrous depravity such as those of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.

From the Queen Mother we learn that character and inner strength can be a formidable anchor during times of change and upheaval.

'Never out of touch'

She felt no need to trim to the prevailing winds of fads and fashions. Instead she stayed true to herself.

Yet the Queen Mother never seemed anachronistic, still less out of touch.

Our memory of her has a timeless quality.

The Queen Mother's strength was that she brought to her public duties the same enjoyment with which she practised her private enthusiasms.

She rejoiced in the company of young people; she was devoted to her regiments; passionate about her sporting interests, from fishing to racing, and brought energy to all of the causes with which she was associated.

I first heard of the death of the Queen Mother when I was fishing on a Scottish loch on Saturday.


It struck me that she might well have approved of such a way to spend a Saturday afternoon!

My first reaction was sadness, but on reflection it turned to gratitude.

For the Queen Mother's life was long, well lived, and for the benefit of many. She was the best of us.

Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family should know that all of us in this House, and in this Country, share their sadness, but that our sadness is balanced with pride.

We are proud to have shared in the life of this deeply loved and remarkable lady.

See also:

02 Apr 02 | UK
Royals pay their respects
03 Apr 02 | Scotland
Holyrood honours Queen Mother
30 Mar 02 | UK Politics
When Parliament has been recalled
30 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Political tributes flow for Queen Mum
02 Apr 02 | UK
A sad return to London
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