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Tuesday, 30 April, 2002, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
Queen pledges to stay on throne
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in Westminster Hall
The Queen has dismissed any suggestion she might abdicate by vowing to continue serving "the people of this great nation of ours".

During her Golden Jubilee address to both Houses of Parliament she expressed her "pride in our past and my confidence in the future".


I would like to thank people everywhere for the loyalty, support, and inspiration you have given me over these 50, unforgettable years

The Queen
She made a point of stressing Britain's "remarkably" peaceful transition to a "multicultural and multifaith society".

She concluded: "I would like above all to declare my resolve to continue, with the support of my family, to serve the people of this great nation of ours to the best of my ability through the changing times ahead."

The BBC's Royal Correspondent Nicholas Witchell said this indicated she "clearly is not entertaining any thought of retiring".

In delivering a personally-written speech to mark her 50th anniversary on the throne, the Queen spoke of enduring British values of "moderation, tolerance and service".

Inspiration

She continued: "We also take pride in our tradition of fairness and tolerance - the consolidation of our richly multicultural and multifaith society, a major development since 1952, is being achieved remarkably peacefully and with much goodwill."

She added: "I would like to thank people everywhere for the loyalty, support, and inspiration you have given me over these 50, unforgettable years.

Lady Thatcher
Lady Thatcher listens to the address

It is only the fifth time during her reign that the monarch has made such an address.

Her speech was made to MPs and peers gathered inside Westminster Hall, where her mother laid in state earlier this month.

Commons Speaker Michael Martin and Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine proposed humble addresses praising the Queen at the gathering.

Lord Irvine said she had "remained constant in our affections" over the past 50 years.

Sunnier

Commenting on the Queen's address, The BBC's Political Editor Andrew Marr said it was "strikingly different" from the speech she delivered in 1977 to mark her Silver Jubilee.

"This seemed a much more placid speech, less defensive, sunnier, perhaps, in tone than at that time."

The Queen with two of her five living prime ministers
The Queen with Edward Heath and Jim Callaghan at her historic dinner
Mr Marr said it was "very much the speech of someone who feels the monarchy is no longer under threat... that parliamentary democracy is unquestioned and that in most domestic regards things have got easier and better than they were 25 years ago."

The last time the Queen addressed the joint Houses of Parliament was in 1995 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

In 1988, she made an address marking the 300th anniversary of the Glorious Revolution and, in 1965, to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the Parliament of Simon de Montfort.

MPs and peers are well used to listening to the Queen during the state opening of Parliament.

On those occasions, she outlines the plans of the government of the day.

Tuesday's speech, however, was written personally by the Queen and Palace officials.

Past premiers

It comes on the eve of the start in Cornwall of the Queen's nationwide 15-week Jubilee tour during which the 76-year-old monarch will visit every region of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Duke of Edinburgh
The Duke of Edinburgh was at the Queen's side
It also follows another historic occasion on Monday night when she and all five of her living prime ministers shared dinner at Downing Street.

As well as the Queen and Prince Philip, Margaret Thatcher, James Callaghan, John Major and Edward Heath were all at Number 10 for the event.

They were joined by relatives of past premiers, including Sir Winston Churchill's daughter, Lady Soames and the Countess of Avon who is Anthony Eden's widow.

Descendants of Harold Macmillan and Sir Alec Douglas-Home, as well as Mary Wilson, widow of Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson were also there.

The party dined on a menu including duck breast and turbot steak, all prepared by celebrity seafood chef Rick Stein.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Andrew Marr
"Not new Labour but perhaps new Windsor"
The Queen addresses the Houses of Parliament
"Fifty unforgettable years"
See also:

30 Apr 02 | UK Politics
In pictures: Queen's personal speech
30 Apr 02 | UK Politics
A resolve to continue
30 Apr 02 | UK Politics
Full text of the Queen's Jubilee speech
29 Apr 02 | UK Politics
Queen dines with her prime ministers
30 Apr 02 | UK Politics
Queen's Silver Jubilee address
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