Queen Elizabeth II today addressed both Houses of Parliament for the first time since 2002.

In her speech, which marks her Diamond Jubilee, she paid tribute to her husband, Prince Philip, for the support he has given her over the 60 years she has been on the Throne. She also spoke of her love for the Commonwealth and, in a sign that she does not plan to abdicate, she vowed that she would continue to continue serving her people 'through the changing times ahead.' She also spoke of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations that will take place across the Commonwealth later this year.

She made the speech in the 1,000-year-old Westminster Hall, the only part of Britain's parliament building which survived the fire of 1834 which razed the rest of the old Westminster Palace to the ground. Those present were British MPs and Lords and didnitaries representing the other Commonwealth nations.

Just before her speech a new stained glass window was unveiled which will be unveiled above the North Door of Westminster Hall later this year.

Pomp and circumstance: Queen addresses both Houses of Parliament for first time in a decade as peers, MPs and dignitaries honour her Diamond Jubilee

  • Queen pays tribute to husband Philip's 'constant strength and guide' over the decades
  • She pledges to 'rededicate' herself to 'service of our great country'
  • Audience giggles as she cracks jokes about Philip and prime ministers
  • Speaker of the House John Bercow's introductory speech lasts longer than Queen's
By Matt Blake

20 March 2012
Daily Mail

The Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee today by paying tribute to the British virtues of 'resilience, ingenuity and tolerance', and to the Duke of Edinburgh, her 'constant strength and guide' over the decades.

In a landmark address to both Houses of Parliament the monarch repeated her vow made on Accession Day in February to 'rededicate myself to the service of our great country'.

In the ancient Westminster Hall the monarch stood to give her address, telling MPs and peers that since she came to the throne she has been a regular visitor to the Palace of Westminster.

Strong:The Queen addressed both Houses of Parliament for the first time in a decade as MPs peers and dignitaries honoured her 60 years on the throne

She added: 'During these years as your Queen, the support of my family has, across the generations, been beyond measure.

'Prince Philip is, I believe, well-known for declining compliments of any kind. But throughout he has been a constant strength and guide.'

This was the monarch's sixth address to both Houses of Parliament. She gave similar speeches in celebration of her Golden Jubilee in 2002 and Silver Jubilee 25 years earlier in 1977.

The Queen has begun her national tour to mark her 60-year reign and said she hoped the Diamond Jubilee celebrations would 'be an opportunity for people to come together in a spirit of neighbourliness and celebration of their own communities'.

The work of millions in the professional and voluntary services, whose efforts were for the pubic good, would also be recognised this year as would the 'remarkable sacrifice and courage of our armed forces'.

Respect: In a remarkable display of pomp and pageantry, Her Majesty entered Westminster Hall to a rousing fanfare before her address

Loyal: The Queen's husband, The Duke of Edinburgh, listened intently as she spoke

Landmark: Westminster Hall was packed with hundreds of MPs, peers and dignitaries

She said: 'Much may have indeed have changed these past 60 years but the valour of those who risk their lives for the defence and freedom of us all remains undimmed.'

Members of the Royal Family have begun touring the Queen's realms to mark her Diamond Jubilee, with Prince Harry recently returning from a trip to Belize, the Bahamas and Jamaica.

The Queen added: 'These overseas tours are a reminder of our close affinity with the Commonwealth, encompassing about one-third of the world's population.

Giggles: She made her audience laugh with a few jokes in her speech, including a quip about how 'at the last count' she had presided over 12 prime ministers

Funny: She made a second gag about how husband prince Philip is 'well-known for declining compliments', before paying him one

'My own association with the Commonwealth has taught me that the most important contact between nations is usually contact between its peoples.

'An organisation dedicated to certain values, the Commonwealth has flourished and grown by successfully promoting and protecting that contact.'

Among the guests was Prime Minister David Cameron, some members of his Cabinet, former premiers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and Labour leader Ed Miliband.

The monarch reflected on the ancient setting for her address: 'We are reminded here of our past, of the continuity of our national story and the virtues of resilience, ingenuity and tolerance which created it.

Parliament past and present: On the front row sat (left to right) former PM Gordon Brown, Speaker's wife Sally Bercow, Tony Blair, Harriet Harman, Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband's wife Justine Thornton, Ed Miliband and Prime Minister David Cameron

'I have been privileged to witness some of that history and, with the support of my family, rededicate myself to the service of our great country and its people now and in the years to come.'


Westminster Hall has been a bedrock of British history since its construction over 1,000 years ago.

It is the oldest building at Parliament and the only one to survive the tremendous fire of 1834 that tore through the complex.

The Royal Courts of Justice sat there until 1882, when they were removed to the Strand.

It's great chamber has hosted some of the most important trials in English history, including those of Scottish rebel Sir William Wallace in 1305, gunpowder plotter Guy Fawkes in 1606 and King Charles I 1649. All were sentenced to a grizzly death.

The Hall was built in 1097 under William II (Rufus), the son of William the Conqueror as a place for banquets and markets, with wig-sellers and fruit stalls.

It is also where monarchs lie in state - an honour occasionally given to others, such as Winston Churchill, and the Queen Mother.

In 1941, incendiary bombs set both Westminster Hall and the Commons Chamber on fire.

On the insistence of Colonel Walter Elliot MP, the hall was saved in preference to the Commons Chamber. The Commons burned for two days but the hall survived.

The Queen also reflected on following in the footsteps of the only other monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee, Queen Victoria in 1897.

She said: 'So, in an era when the regular, worthy rhythm of life is less eye-catching than doing something extraordinary, I am reassured that I am merely the second sovereign to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee.'

During the event a Diamond Jubilee window - a gift from the members of both Houses and based on the royal coat of arms - was unveiled to mark the monarch's 60-year reign.

The Queen thanked the peers and MPs for the present and said: 'Should this beautiful window cause just a little extra colour to shine down on this ancient place, I should gladly settle for that.'

The idea for the gift came from Michael Ellis, Tory MP for Northampton North, who established and chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

In his introductory speech, Commons Speaker Mr Bercow praised the Queen for 'Sixty years of stability. Sixty years of security. Sixty years of certainty. Sixty years of sacrifice. Sixty years of service.'

He added: 'If, as Gandhi asserted, 'the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others', then Your Majesty must have found yourself countless times over the past decades. You have dedicated yourself to others.

'The daily example that you set, mirrored by our courageous Armed Forces, of which you are commander-in-chief, is extraordinary.

'Yet perhaps Your Majesty's most profound contribution has been to the continuity that has made change manageable.'

It will be installed above the North Door of Westminster Hall later this year.

Also in the audience were the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who has just announced plans to retire, along with some of the clerics tipped as his successor, including Archbishop of York John Sentamu and Bishop of London Richard Chartres.

The parliamentary maces were carried in procession into Westminster Hall, followed by the Yeomen of the Guard in ceremonial uniform.

Her limousine earlier swept through the Carriage Gates at the Palace of Westminster and pulled up on the cobbles outside the north door of Westminster Hall as Big Ben struck 11.

She stepped from the state Bentley and was greeted by the Lord Great Chamberlain, Marquess Cholmondeley, before walking the few steps into the hall, where MPs and peers stood for her arrival.

She was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, Lady in Waiting Countess of Airlie and Equerry in Waiting Colonel Dan Rex.

The Queen was wearing a pale buttercup-yellow dress with flower motifs in shades of olive, lavender and pale burgundy by Karl Ludwig. Her coat was also in buttercup, with wool crepe and she wore a matching hat by Angela Kelly.

About 200 MPs' researchers and other parliamentary staff had gathered in New Palace Yard to watch the Queen's arrival, while a helicopter hovered overhead.

Pomp and pageantry: The parliamentary maces were carried in procession into Westminster Hall, followed by the Yeomen of the Guard in ceremonial uniform

All stand: The audience stood as she entered the hall with Philip

Guard of honour: Soldiers lined the red carpet into the great hall

Tory MP Patrick Mercer was not in Westminster Hall for the addresses - the former Army officer cycled from the precincts on a yellow mountain bike four minutes before the royal party's arrival.

The Queen's visit to Westminster Hall began with Lord Speaker, Baroness D'Souza, presenting the address from the House of Lords and House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow, making a similar speech from the Commons.

The event is part of the traditional dialogue between the monarch and Parliament where Houses, either individually or together, present 'a humble address' and the Sovereign replies.

Today's ceremony has special significance as each House will assemble as a whole to present its address.

Present: During the event a Diamond Jubilee window - a gift from the members of both Houses - was unveiled to mark the monarch's 60-year reign

Personal: The window will be installed above the North Door of Westminster Hall later this year

Honour: The Queen's visit to Westminster Hall began with Lord Speaker, Baroness D'Souza, presenting the address from the House of Lords and House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow, making a similar speech from the Commons

In her 2002 address, the Queen spoke about '50 unforgettable years' on the throne, telling MPs and peers: '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 monarch's speech to both houses to mark her 1977 silver jubilee reflected on the historic events of the first 25 years of her reign, which had seen the final break-up of the British Empire.

She said: 'No longer an imperial power, we have been coming to terms with what this means for ourselves and for our relations with the rest of the world.'

Repeat: The last time the Queen spoke to Westminster Hall was for her Golden Jubilee in 2002, left, and her Silver jubilee in 1977 before that, right

Diamond Jubilee: The Queen addresses Parliament at Westminster Hall | Mail Online