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Queen Speaks to British Parliament

April 30, 2002

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LONDON (AP) _ Queen Elizabeth II received the nation’s thanks Tuesday for her 50 years as monarch, and in a rare personal speech to Parliament praised the character of the British people and thanked them for a half-century of support.

``I would like to express my pride in our past and my confidence in our future,″ the queen told both Houses of Parliament.

``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,″ she said.

At the ceremony marking the Golden Jubilee of the queen’s reign, former prime ministers joined peers and members of Parliament in Westminster Hall where, three weeks ago, hundreds of thousands of people had paid their respects at the coffin of her mother, the Queen Mother Elizabeth.

As the queen and her husband, Prince Philip, sat on ornate golden chairs, the speakers of the House of Lords and the House of Commons in their embroidered velvet robes gave speeches praising the queen’s devotion to duty.

Lord Irvine, the Lord Chancellor, said he and his fellow peers hoped the sadness of the beginning of this year, in which the queen’s mother and siiter, Princess Margaret, died, ``will begin to fade in the warmth of the affection of your people.″

Michael Martin, speaking for the Commons, thanked the queen for her ``wisdom and grace″ and for demonstrating ``for all to see, the value of a constitutional monarchy in securing the liberties of our citizens and the fundamental unity of this kingdom and the Commonwealth.″

The queen, in a peacock blue dress and hat, then stood to speak to the legislators in a way she very rarely can _ expressing her own thoughts, rather than those of the government, which prepares most of her official speeches. Her annual address to Parliament is an outline of the government’s legislative agenda, written by 10 Downing St.

The queen pointed to the immense changes in science, technology and world politics since she succeeded to the throne in 1952.

``Change has become a constant; managing it has become an expanding discipline. The way we embrace it defines our future,″ the queen said.

``Only the passage of time can filter out the ephemeral from the enduring,″ she said,″ and what endure are the characteristics that mark our identity as a nation and the timeless values that guide us.″

``We are a moderate, pragmatic people, more comfortable with practice than theory,″ the queen said. ``We are outward-looking and open-minded, well suited by temperament _ and language _ to our shrinking world.

``We are inventive and creative,″ she said. ``We also take pride in our tradition of fairness and tolerance _ the consolidation of our richly multicultural and multifaith society, a major development since 1952, is being achieved remarkably peacefully and with much good will.″

``As I travel the length and breadth of these islands over these coming weeks,″ the queen said, ``I would like to thank people everywhere for the loyalty, support, and inspiration you have given me over these 50 unforgettable years.

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