ParliamentRoyal FamilySpeeches

Nia Griffith – 2022 Tribute to HM Queen Elizabeth II

The tribute made by Dame Nia Griffith, the Labour MP for Llanelli, in the House of Commons on 9 September 2022.

Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for giving me this opportunity to speak in tribute to Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. I begin by expressing my most sincere condolences to her family on my behalf and on behalf of people across the constituency of Llanelli. Our thoughts are particularly with King Charles III, Her late Majesty’s other children, her grandchildren and their families. For them, this is a deeply personal loss. While they have always had to share the Queen—their mother and grandmother—with the public, that is particularly hard at this time of immense grief. For them, too, this follows so closely from the loss of their father and grandfather, the late Prince Philip.

I would like to set on the record my huge appreciation for the way that the Queen carried out her duties, shouldering an enormous workload and responsibility from a young age for a full 70 years, including working right into this week appointing the new Prime Minister. The Queen was exemplary in her dedication and commitment—an example to all of us in public life—but she went above and beyond that, taking a personal interest in matters and showing real empathy with people.

In Wales we were privileged to receive the Queen’s visits on many occasions. She has been with us for important moments in our nation’s history, including to open the National Assembly for Wales in 1999 and, last year, to open the sixth Session of the Senedd.

At the opening of the Senedd, a young woman from my constituency, Ffion Gwyther, was tasked with presenting Her Majesty with a bouquet of flowers. As Members can imagine, as that moment approached, Ffion was very nervous—but she need not have worried. The Queen looked at her and immediately understood the situation, putting her at ease by saying gently, “Are those flowers for me? How beautiful. They match my outfit.” That is a moment that Ffion will never forget, and it is just one of countless examples of how the Queen was always so kind and thoughtful in her approach and knew exactly how to handle the occasion and put a young woman at ease. During her reign, she will have touched millions in the same way.

It was not only on happy occasions that the Queen visited Wales. She will always be remembered for her visit to Aberfan in the aftermath of the terrible tragedy of 1966, when a slag heap buried the school. Speaking about her visit, Jeff Edwards, the last child to be rescued from the school, stressed the community’s appreciation, saying that people

“felt comfort from the fact that the Queen, who was the head of state, had come to a small mining village and had shown direct interest and concern for her subjects who had gone through this enormous event.”

The Queen’s role goes far beyond Wales and the UK to the Commonwealth. There we have seen huge changes and a complex transition from the empire to today’s Commonwealth. With such a range of nations, each with its own particular circumstances, it is no wonder that tensions have sometimes arisen, but we must recognise the crucial role that the Queen has played in maintaining a unique family of nations. There is no doubt that her wisdom and professionalism, her personal rapport with individuals and the very high esteem in which she is held have been pivotal in helping to smooth that transition and keep the Commonwealth together.

Going forward, the best tribute we can give is to follow her excellent example and to try to serve our communities with the same dedication and fortitude that she showed throughout her life. As we turn to the future, long live the King.