To mark her Diamond Jubilee, the Queen addressed members of both Houses of Parliament yesterday in Westminster Hall. Her speech was short, balanced, included some jokes and what some may regard as a dig at Parliament for the sheer volume of legislation that is enacted. It was well received, as evidenced by the prolonged standing ovation. Everyone seemed to enjoy the occasion; it was, after all, a celebration. It was also marked by the unveiling of some stained glass windows – paid for by members of both Houses – that will be put in the window above the North Entrance to Westminster Hall.
The speech was followed by a reception in the Royal Gallery. There was a ballot to determine who could attend. I was successful, but then so were rather a lot of others. We were organised in groups. Mine – Group 4 (yes, I made the joke about the name) – was headed by Baroness Royall, the Leader of the Opposition, even though it was formed predominantly of Conservatives (including a Duke and two Earls – ours was definitely the most aristocratic group). We were squeezed between one headed by Nick Clegg and another by Ed Miliband. The Queen came round each group and was introduced to the members. Though I am regularly at royal events – State Opening, Trooping the Colour, Buckingham Palace Garden Parties – this was the first time I had been introduced to the Queen. I am doing well for Heads of State – last year, Barack Obama, this year the Queen. Not quite sure what I will do for next year.