Pigeon – September 2022 column

September has proven to be one of the most tumultuous times in living memory. First, we had the appointment of a new Prime Minister with Liz Truss becoming the new leader of the Conservative Party. The country was then thrown into a state of flux with the sad passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The sombre atmosphere rightly reflected a nation in mourning not just of a person who dedicated their life to the service of others, but in the passing of an emblem of quiet determinism and dignity.

Her late Majesty the Queen has a long-intertwined history with Bristol. I know that in her seventy-year reign she will have met many residents in south Bristol and it is only right that we marked this momentous occasion together, as a community. As your Member of Parliament there were other official duties which needed to be undertaken to ensure our constitution continued to be upheld and defended. These are events that have been planned to the smallest detail and to be part of them was not only an honour, it was a solemn duty.

One of the first deeds that needed to be done was Parliament sat over the Friday and Saturday following Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s death. This was for two reasons: to allow the House of Lords and Commons to reflect on our late Queen and to reaffirm our oath of allegiance to His Majesty King Charles III. Now, it is little known that before the mid-19th century the oath an MP took was only to the sitting monarch. This caused issues when the crown was inherited to the next generation. It was then realised that this process slowed down modern government and that is why MPs now swear to the monarch “…their heirs and successors”.

Following the two-day sitting His Majesty King Charles III attended Westminster Hall – the medieval hall Parliament is built around – to hear both the Lords and Commons pay their respects to Her late Majesty the Queen and to listen to his remarks. For any of you that have visited Parliament you will know just how inspiring Westminster Hall is. It’s history dates back to before the time of the Tudors, to William II – the son of William the Conqueror.

This is a momentous time in our shared history and I know many will be observing it and reflecting on its lasting impact.