It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Wallasey (Dame Angela Eagle). I am filled with great sadness as I rise to pay tribute to the life and memory of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Our thoughts are with the royal family, who have lost a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother.
Her late Majesty lived an extraordinary life of service, and the touching tributes that we have heard from right hon. and hon. Members, along with the outpouring of emotion from across the world, including from my constituents in Bromsgrove District, reflect the deep affection and love for her. For more than seven decades, she was a source of strength and comfort, a representative of our closest-held values and beliefs, a defender of faith and an embodiment of the very best of public service and duty. She was our north star, a symbol of strength in difficult times. To put it simply, she was our Queen.
Many right hon. and hon. Members have shared stories of times when they were privileged to meet Her late Majesty. I did so on many occasions, and I always welcomed the huge wisdom that she would share, the advice and of course the good humour. I will never forget how, as the formalities of the final Privy Council meeting of 2017 ended, Her Majesty suddenly said, “Gin and tonic anybody?” She proceeded to press a buzzer and, with that, her staff promptly burst through the doors of the 1844 room in Buckingham Palace armed with trays of G and T and nibbles.
Now, I am not much of a G and T drinker, but I was certainly not going to turn down the opportunity of enjoying one with Her late Majesty. I later learned that she liked to make the last Privy Council meeting of the year extra special so that she could wish everyone a merry Christmas.
Our country faces immense challenges at home and abroad, and the person who has always been there is there no longer. However, in the wake of this terrible loss, there is an opportunity for parliamentarians from across this House to renew their commitment to the values that were embodied by Her late Majesty: public service, duty and the national interest. If we can leave this place having achieved but the smallest fraction of what Her late Majesty achieved, our country will be the better for it. After a lifetime of service, Her late Majesty is now at rest. May she rest in peace, and God save the King.