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Wednesday, 3 April, 2002, 14:21 GMT 15:21 UK
Parliament salutes royal 'inspiration'
The Queen Mother's coffin at St James's Palace on Tuesday
The royal coffin will be carried to Westminster on Friday
The Queen Mother's "total and selfless devotion" to serving the UK was saluted by Tony Blair as he led Parliament's upbeat tributes to an "inspiring" royal.

MPs stood to observe a minute's silence to mark the Queen Mother's death as both Houses of Parliament were recalled early from their Easter break.


The land of pearly kings and queens were inspired by the sparkling monarch who picked her way through the rubble

Oona King
East London MP
In a two hour Commons sitting, Mr Blair said the Queen Mother's "high integrity and humanity" made her not just respected but also loved.

Conservative Leader Iain Duncan Smith said: "All of us owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the woman who played such a vital part in defending our liberty and democracy."

Charles Kennedy, the Liberal Democrat leader, said the Queen Mother's life was the story of the 20th Century and she was "the key bond between the monarchy and the people".

'Unifying figure'

The prime minister proposed that a "humble address" be presented to the Queen expressing MPs' "deep sympathies and condolences".


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

  Click here for in depth coverage

The address speaks of the Queen Mother's "unstinting, devoted public service" and of her role as a "unifying figure" who inspired love and affection in all she met.

Mr Blair offered "profound thanks" for her life and said the many tributes that have followed her death were truly "heartfelt".

It was not just royal supporters who were impressed said Mr Blair, quoting former anti-monarchist MP Willie Hamilton.

On her 80th birthday, Mr Hamilton said: "May God understand and forgive me if I have been ensnared and corrupted, if only briefly, by this superb old trouper."

'Inner strength'

The Queen Mother's role during the Second World War were mentioned in many of the tributes.

Tory leader Mr Duncan Smith said "her inner strength and her wonderful personality" had come to the fore when the country had needed her most.

And Labour MP Oona King paid special thanks on behalf of the people of London's East End, to whom the Queen Mother had given special comfort during the Blitz.

The Queen Mother in the East End during the Second World War
The Queen Mother's role in the Blitz was saluted
"The land of pearly kings and queens were inspired by the sparkling monarch who picked her way through the rubble," said Ms King.

Tory MP Sir Patrick Cormack suggested a new Bank Holiday should be established close to 11 November to commemorate both war veterans and the Queen Mother herself.

Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble also stressed the key role the Queen Mother had played in the wake of the 1936 Abdication Crisis.

Charles Kennedy was among those who noted warmth which enabled the Queen Mother to connect to the general public.

The Lib Dem leader also spoke of her special affection for Scotland, where she grew up at Glamis Castle.

That point was echoed by Scottish National Party parliamentary group leader Alex Salmond, who spoke of her "irresistible way" of reacting to adversity and her love for horse racing.

Middle East debate call

Tam Dalyell, the longest serving MP, recalled the Queen Mother's "very sharp sense of humour" as he led praise from the backbenches.

Mr Dalyell is among a number of MPs who have called for Parliament's recall to be used to debate the Middle East conflict.

The Labour MP suggested the Queen Mother herself would have been "deeply concerned" by the ongoing violence in the region would not have objected to such a debate.

Downing Street has resisted such pressure, saying the recall had to be devoted solely to the tributes.

The Queen Mother's funeral will be a royal ceremonial occasion rather than the state funeral reserved for heads of state.

Tory MP Sir Michael Spicer hoped she would be granted the state funeral accolade, although Buckingham Palace has said there is essential no visible difference.

Special grace

In the House of Lords, which was packed almost full, there was a similar set of eulogies opened by Lords Leader Lord Williams of Mostyn.

"Smiles and delight, happiness and mischief accompanied her wherever she went," said Lord Williams.

His Conservative counterpart, Lord Strathclyde said: "The Queen Mother's achievements and her litany of service are written in the hearts of the British people."

Her "extraordinary quality of enjoyment" was picked out by the Lib Dems' Baroness Williams, while Archbishop of Canterbury George Cary praised her "own very special grace".

See also:

03 Apr 02 | UK Politics
Full text of Blair tribute
03 Apr 02 | UK Politics
Lib Dem leader's tribute in full
03 Apr 02 | UK Politics
Tory leader's tribute in full
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
02 Apr 02 | UK
A sad return to London
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