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Tuesday, 4 June, 2002, 15:10 GMT 16:10 UK
Tribute to Queen's stoicism
Tony and Cherie Blair
Tony Blair described the Queen as "remarkable"
Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke of the "huge affection" the nation holds for its Queen in a Jubilee speech at the Guildhall in the City of London.

Here is his speech in full.

Your Majesty, Lord Mayor, ladies and gentlemen,

In all the words written and spoken about Your Majesty in celebration of the Golden Jubilee, two themes constantly recur: first everyone refers to the sheer scope of change over the 50 years.

The black and white newsreels of 1952 show a country very different from the one in which we live today.

A person born today can expect to live almost a decade longer, people are far more prosperous, 10 times as many young people go on to higher education and just to reinforce the length of your reign, the latest of your prime ministers was not even born when you held the first audience with your first prime minister Mr Churchill.

And secondly, ma'am, everyone reflects on the huge affection that this nation feels for you.

Gold State Coach
Thousands greeted the Queen on her special day

As a lady put it to me at a street party in the village of Trimdon, in Co Durham yesterday: 'We don't just respect her, we love her'.

We salute Prince Philip, too. Being prime minister does give you a little insight into the Royal Family and I know what an extraordinary source of strength he has been to you, not least in the wonderful work you have done for the Commonwealth.

He has been your perfect partner, and we all of us give thanks to him for it.

And I believe we are lucky indeed to have Prince Charles as heir. Again, I know from talking to people, especially young people, and especially those in greatest need of help, how the Prince's Trust has transformed their lives for the better.

Prince Charles did not have to do it. But he has done it. He did it out of a sense of duty for others and we thank him sincerely for it.

You have been a unifying force whilst around you there has been immense change

Tony Blair

But, ma'am, I want to reflect briefly on the how and why your Majesty, amidst the change, has retained so strongly the affection of the British people.

It is a remarkable achievement. You adapted the Monarchy successfully to the modern world - and that has been a challenge because it is a world that can pay scant regard to tradition and often values passing fashions above enduring faith.

You have been stoic in the face of adversity and that has been a trial in an age of 24-hour-a-day media scrutiny, where every human frailty is dwelt upon and magnified.

And you have been a unifying force whilst around you there has been immense constitutional and cultural change.

'Best of British'

So I repeat: To adapt, to remain stoical, above all to unify this nation in these 50 years and be loved for doing it is indeed remarkable and I don't think that wisdom and discernment alone could have done it.

I believe that you have succeeded because you have a quality that is not a quality that belongs alone to kings or queens, presidents or prime ministers, or to the famous and celebrated.

It is a quality that is the very best of the British character and when we find it, we recognise it immediately.

It is the quality of commitment, commitment to the service of others. We know that you are, without falter or hesitation, totally committed to serving us, the British people.

Tony Blair
Blair thanked the Queen for her commitment

It is what drives you, you feel it, you let it guide your actions and it shows.

Whatever the changes of modernity, whatever the vicissitudes of your own life, whatever dramas or crises are played out around you, no-one ever doubts that commitment to serving Britain.

It is genuine, it is unwavering and it is selfless.

You unify our nation, ma'am, because you symbolise, powerfully, true patriotism - not the erupting emotion of an impulse, but the steady commitment of a faithful heart.

So the outpouring of affection for you, ma'am, over these past weeks has not been out of deference alone.

It has been towards you as a person, as a human being; and even for those who do not know you personally, they know you care for the people, are dedicated to their welfare and will never let them down.

Deference may be inherited, but affection is earned and the affection this country feels for you is real.

So, if I could put it this way, ma'am, it is not only the quantity of your reign we are celebrating today, it is the quality.

For 50 years of commitment to service to the British nation we are profoundly grateful to you, and to the Royal Family.

May God bless Your Majesty now and for many, many years to come. Your Majesty, ladies and gentlemen, will you join me in a toast to the Lord Mayor and Corporation of London.

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See also:

03 Jun 02 | Entertainment
04 Jun 02 | Entertainment
03 Jun 02 | Scotland
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