When the announcement was made that Her Majesty had passed away, I cried in the way I do when told someone I am close to has passed away, even though she was not someone I had ever met. It felt like we had lost our anchor, the person who has seemingly always been there to help get us through whatever troubles the country has been facing, most recently Covid.
Parliament does not usually sit on Fridays or Saturdays, but it did so both days in order that MPs could give their tributes. In total across the 2 days, 321 MPs gave their tributes to Her Majesty, including myself, shortly before 10pm on the Friday (you can watch it at www.david-johnston.org.uk). Before that, we received the live broadcast to the nation from our new King in the House of Commons, a perfectly pitched, moving address.
The MP speeches were emotional, funny and heartfelt. Over and over the same themes emerged: that even when you hadn’t met her you felt like you knew her; that she had given an incredible service to our nation; that she was sharp, passionate, selfless and mischievous, with twinkling eyes.
I bounced between different ceremonies in the constituency and in Parliament during the period of mourning, each of them poignant, but none so emotional as filing past Her Majesty’s coffin in Westminster Hall when she was lying-in-state. This truly brought home what had happened, although I think it will take some time to properly sink in yet.
It is a momentous time for our nation and for the Royal Family. Our new King assumes his responsibilities at a time of great sadness for him and his family. I’ve no doubt he will be an excellent King. He has shown in his time as Prince of Wales the care and concern he has for this country and has had decades to learn from Her Majesty (who became Queen at just 25) the best way to conduct the role. May Queen Elizabeth II Rest In Peace and God Save the King.
The period of mourning of course affected the activities that I undertook this month, but around it were still several visits and events, including the Didcot Twinning Association’s reception for the Mayor of Meylan, an area of France Didcot is twinned with, and a fundraising launch for a 14th century chantry window in All Saint’s Church, North Moreton. Two other things to note: September is Alzheimer’s Month and I know a lot of your families – like my own – have been affected by related conditions, so as a ‘Dementia Friend’ I encourage people to take part in activities supporting this. Similarly, the 2nd of October is Silver Sunday, the national day for older people, with plenty of events going on which I have been asked to encourage people to participate in or run. You find out more at https://silversunday.org.uk
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