Biography Chronology Home Search Speeches/Statements

1996 - Mr Major’s Comments on the Queen’s 70th Birthday

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on the Queen’s 70th Birthday, made on Wednesday 17th April 1996.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked about the Queen’s Reign and how it could be summarised].

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I think in exactly the way she foresaw it when she first became Queen. As I recall, one of the first things she said, perhaps even the first speech, was to speak about a life of service, and I think that’s what we’ve seen over the last 40 odd years. A supreme example of service and responsibility to a nation. That is what the Queen has been. It has been above and beyond politics and all the stronger for that.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked what he thought would be the future for the Monarchy].

PRIME MINISTER:

The Monarchy will continue. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. It will continue on. It has built into the warp and weft of our life. It has been there. It couldn’t be replaced in the fashion in my judgement Those people who occasionally babble of talk of a republic have no idea of the dramatic changes that would mean. I think that is nonsense, it is against the spirit of the British instinct and I think the Monarchy will continue. Of course it will change. It’s changed during the period the Queen’s reign. It’s become a much more open Monarchy than it was, and I think you’ll see that gentle change continue in the future. Impossible to predict precisely how, but there will be changes, but I think they will be consistent with the movement of British life.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked for any personal comments he had regarding the Queen’s birthday].

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I think there are several things really. I would hope for the nation as a whole, that they could perhaps appreciate and see a little more, rather more of what actually the Monarchy means, and what actually the Queen does. People see the formal side of the Monarchy. What we don’t often see is the bubbling sense of fun that exists underneath that. I’d like people to see rather more of that. But I suppose there’s perhaps a more formal response to your question. The answer I think probably lies in the National Anthem itself - long to reign over us. I think that’s what I’d wish to see and the country too as well.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked about the divorce of the Duke and Duchess of York].

PRIME MINISTER:

Well any divorce of any young couple is of course a very sad affair. Something that starts off with such bright hopes collapses and comes to an end. So I think everyone will be very sad on a personal level about that. But I think it is the right decision to be made. It’s clear both to the Duke and Duchess and I think to everyone else, that that marriage has broken down and I think the right thing to do now is to end it quickly, clearly in the fashion it has been done. I think that’s in the interest of the Duke, in the interest of the Duchess and I think in everyone elses’ interests as well.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if it would damage the Monarchy].

PRIME MINISTER:

I don’t think so to be honest. I don’t believe that is so. Clearly it has been a difficult period for the Monarchy over the past few years for one reason or another, and I think everyone acknowledges that. But the strength of the Monarchy is such that it will be able to overcome these difficulties, is overcoming them, and the divorce I think will be seen as an inevitability by most people. But I don’t think it is going to have any lasting impact whatsoever upon the Monarchy or, equally important, upon people’s perception of the Monarchy. That has a particular role, a particular responsibility and that will continue.