A statement from the Vice-Chancellor
An excerpt from the speech given by the Vice-Chancellor at Friday's Graduation ceremony.
"I would like to pay a tribute to our much-loved Queen Elizabeth II. She was the longest serving monarch in British history, and the second longest reigning monarch in all history. People of all generations will remember her with great affection.
"Born in 1926, she was of course the daughter of the Duke of York, later King George VI, and the Duchess of York, later Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. She first called herself Lilibet, a name that stuck over the years, as did her early interests in horses, dogs, and her sense of duty. My Mum, for example, remembers as a little girl being greatly impressed by the young Princess Elizabeth’s example, as she served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service, training as a driver and a mechanic. And of course on VE Day she and her sister Margaret mingled incognito with crowds on the streets. Two years later she married His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
"I cannot fairly summarise her life as monarch, but as you will know, she came to the throne in 1952, on her father’s death, and then reigned as monarch for 70 years and 214 days. During the 50s, 60s and 70s, her reign saw the increasing decolonisation of the British Empire and the self-government of independent nations. In addition to the United Kingdom, she was Queen of 14 other commonwealth realms. And of course she led and cherished the commonwealth of nations, seeing it grow to its current association of 56 member states.
"We will all have our own personal memories of the Queen. How could it be otherwise, for she has been the backdrop to all our stories. I remember seeing her drive past, at some speed, when I was a young boy in Swansea during the silver jubilee in 1977. You may remember her Golden Jubilee in 2002, the year she lost her dear sister and mother. Or 2012, which marked her Diamond jubilee, the year in which she opened the London Olympics and starred alongside Daniel Craig, in a James Bond skit, apparently jumping from a helicopter and parachuting into the stadium. Or you may remember her Platinum Jubilee, marked earlier this year, in which we learnt the contents of her handbag – a marmalade sandwich, just like Paddington.
"Despite our different memories, and perhaps the different positions we may take on the principle of a constitutional monarchy, I think we will all hold cherished memories of the Queen. She was I believe the finest example of professionalism and of selfless dedication to duty we will ever see.
"At this time we offer our sincere condolences to His Majesty the King and to the Royal Family – they are in our thoughts and prayers.
"God Save the King."
The University Chaplain has placed books of condolence in the Sanctuaries of our High Wycombe and Uxbridge campuses. There will also be books of condolence in place at our Aylesbury, Missenden Abbey and Pinewood sites in the coming days, details of which will follow.
Anyone who wishes to send a message of condolence digitally is able to do so via this link.