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Thursday, 4 April, 2002, 05:12 GMT 06:12 UK
Blair leads tributes to Queen Mother
MPs in the House of Commons
MPs packed into the Commons to pay tribute
Prime Minister Tony Blair has paid tribute to the Queen Mother saying she was a "unifying force" who commanded the affection and respect of the whole nation.


There is nothing false or complicated about the public response to her death... she loved her country and her country loved her

Tony Blair
Prime minister
He was leading politicians from all sides in paying their respects, as both Houses of Parliament and the Scottish Parliament were recalled.

Speaking to a packed House of Commons, Mr Blair praised the Queen Mother's "extraordinary vigour", her love of life, her humour and sense of duty.

Mr Blair concluded: "There is nothing false or complicated about the public response to her death. It's the simplest of equations. She loved her country and her country loved her."

Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said: "We are proud to have shared in the life of this deeply loved and remarkable lady."

Royal vigil

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy spoke of the "special place the Queen mother always had in the hearts of Scottish people" because of "her warmth and because she identified so strongly with us".

Senior parliamentarians including Labour's Tam Dalyell, Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble and former Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond paid their own tributes to the Queen Mother and shared memories of their meetings with her over the years.


BBC News Online looks back over the remarkable life and times of the Queen Mother


Parliament's recall comes ahead of a ceremony on Friday when the royal coffin will be carried to lie in state at Westminster Hall until the funeral in Westminster Abbey on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Duke of York has visited St James' Palace to pay his respects to his grandmother.

He spent time in the Queen's Chapel before moving on to sign the book of condolence and meet well-wishers gathered outside.

The Duke then walked down the Mall to Clarence House, the Queen Mother's London residence, where he said the four grandsons - Prince Charles, Prince Edward, Lord Linley and himself - planned to hold a vigil while the Queen Mother's body lay in state.

"We each had an individual and unique relationship with our grandmother," The Duke of York said.

"She was very, very special indeed."

'Steadfast service'

Lord Williams of Mostyn, the Leader of the Lords, led peers by praising the Queen Mother's "charm, dignity and steadfast service".

In Scotland, the parliament held a one minute silence before party leaders led by First Minister Jack McConnell paid their tributes.

Route map
Click here for a larger map and timetable
Enlarged map Enlarge map
At Westminster - last recalled after the US terror attacks - the Commons benches were packed although some Labour MPs with republican views had been expected to stay away, and some other politicians were abroad and unable to return.

Downing Street has resisted calls from some MPs who want Wednesday's tributes to be followed by an emergency debate about ongoing violence in the Middle East.

State honours

Under current plans, the Queen Mother will receive a royal ceremonial funeral. Protocol reserves state funerals for heads of state.

The Houses of Parliament
Westminster is the destination for Friday's spectacular procession
Parliament can decide to grant the accolade to other key national figures, as it did for Nelson, Wellington and Churchill, but that move is thought unlikely on this occasion.

Buckingham Palace stresses the main elements of a state funeral are "absolutely identical" to the ceremonial funeral the Queen Mother will receive.

The core difference is the government pays for state funerals, while the Queen bears much of the costs for royal ceremonial funerals.

Military spectacular

The Queen Mother's coffin made a low-key arrival in London on Tuesday and is resting at St James's Palace for a period of private mourning for the Royal Family.

On Wednesday a special service is being held at the Forfar church in Scotland where she was confirmed at the age of 16.

Parliament will again be centre stage on Friday, when a military spectacular is promised as 1,600 troops march with the coffin to Westminster Hall.

The public will then be able to pay their respects as the coffin lies in state inside the medieval hall on 5 April (1400 to 1800 BST), and from 6 to 8 April (0800 to 1800 BST).

Politicians from around the Commonwealth will attend the funeral itself in Westminster Abbey next Tuesday.

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 ON THIS STORY
Prince Andrew
"Charles summed it up well"
The BBC's Guto Harri
"The tributes were upbeat, personal and heartfelt"

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See also:

03 Apr 02 | UK Politics
03 Apr 02 | UK Politics
03 Apr 02 | UK Politics
03 Apr 02 | UK Politics
03 Apr 02 | Scotland
03 Apr 02 | UK Politics
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