It is now almost seven years since my beloved Grandmother died, having given very nearly eighty years of continual, dedicated service to this country.
The completion of a fitting memorial that not only commemorates the life of someone who was held in such deep affection throughout the United Kingdom and the entire Commonwealth, but also commemorates the life and unflinching contribution of my Grandfather, King George VI, is a cause for celebration and joyful nostalgia.
At long last my Grandparents are reunited in this joint symbol which, in particular, reminds us of all they stood for, and meant to so many, during the darkest days this country has ever faced.
Today we remember them both with joy mingled with sadness, but also intense gratitude for the role they performed with such consummate grace and inspiration.
All of us gathered here today will, I know, miss my darling Grandmother’s vitality, her interest in the lives of others, her unbounded courage and determination that allowed her – incredibly – to continue her official life to the age of very nearly 102; her perceptive wisdom, her calm in the face of all adversities, her steadfast belief in the British people and, above all, her irresistible, irrepressible sense of mischievous humour.
These are the qualities and characteristics we recall today with love, pride and thanksgiving.
If I may, I would like to thank the Prime Minister most warmly for the part he played, as Chancellor of The Exchequer, in responding to my original enquiry about a suitable memorial and for making it possible for the proceeds from the sale of commemorative coins specially issued by the Royal Mint to mark The Queen’s eightieth birthday to go towards this project.
Gratitude is also due to all those who have contributed so much to the exquisite workmanship of this monument – the architects, the sculptors (including, I am proud to say, the creator of the bronze reliefs who was originally assisted by my Prince’s Trust), the stonemasons and the foundry workers – and, we must not forget, the Director of the Property Section in The Queen’s Household who, ingeniously, ensured the whole project was completed to budget. Together, and with immense distinction, skill and sensitivity, they have helped greatly to enhance this part of The Mall.
Above all, their genius has provided us with a singularly appropriate physical memorial to, for many, an adored Queen Mother, and for others here today, a beloved Mother, Grandmother, Aunt or employer. How blessed we were to have known her and her generosity of spirit.