Prime Minister, Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen, my wife and I were so touched and humbled by your invitation to join you today – the fourth anniversary of the terrible events which befell London on 7th July, 2005.
I believe the date of the London Bombings is etched vividly on all our minds, as a brutal intrusion into the lives of thousands of people. Tragically, as we know, some were not so fortunate as to walk away from what happened on that awful day, and it is them that we seek to honour with the memorial which has been erected here in Hyde Park in their memory.
Although whatever words I can find seem so profoundly inadequate in these circumstances, both my wife and I would like to express now, as then, our deeply held grief and anguish at the appalling aberrations in the human consciousness which produce such cruel and mindless carnage.
The families of the victims, the survivors and the stout-hearted emergency services remain very much in our thoughts and prayers – you are a moving example of holding together bravely in the face of such inhuman and deplorable outrage, and you offer us hope for the future.
I never fail to be amazed by the resilience and fortitude of the British people, and it was this indomitable spirit, together with the commitment, compassion and sheer doggedness of the emergency services, which got us through that day, and the days and weeks to come.
My wife and I have such fond memories of meeting many of those who had been bereaved and injured when you so bravely came to Highgrove in July 2006, and we were moved beyond words by the unutterable misery which was being endured.
I do feel that perhaps I have some, just some, small awareness of the shattering loss you have all suffered, as I can only too well recall the intense despair, and many other emotions, that I experienced, when my beloved great uncle, Lord Mountbatten, was murdered by terrorists thirty years ago next month – together with my godson, his grandmother and the boatman’s son.
Everyone has their own way of responding to trauma, grief, injury and bereavement, but I do pray that all those touched by violence everywhere will eventually find peace again.
Above all, I pray they will gain comfort and strength from coming together to honour the memories of those taken from us and, in so doing, commit ourselves to eliminating the circumstances that caused the violence in the first place.
The creation of a monument or memorial – in this case to remember the fifty-two men and women we lost on that day – fulfills a deeply-held need, for each one offers a path to peace and healing, each one honours the dead and each reminds us to lead our lives in a way that would make them proud.
Their lives among us may be over, but the happiness and the love they shared with us runs through us still.