Recognising Lord Sheikh’s role as non-executive Chairman of NLA International Ltd we feel it fitting to share his speech of Tribute to the Queen at the time of Her Majesty’s passing.
My Lords, I join millions of people in the country and all over the world in expressing my sorrow and pain at the passing of our great monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Our late Queen was an extraordinary and remarkable lady who ruled us with dignity, wisdom and good humour during our good and bad times over a period of seven decades. Her late Majesty provided unbiased counsel to 15 British Prime Ministers from the two major political parties and worked harmoniously with more than 150 Prime Ministers from different parts of the Commonwealth during her reign. May God bless her soul.
At the age of 21, when our late Queen was a princess, she gave us a defining pledge by saying:
“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service”.
Our late Queen was indeed a lady of vision, and she totally fulfilled her extraordinary promise.
I was born in Kenya. In 1952, the Queen visited that country when she was a princess. She was staying at a marvellous lodge called Treetops when she was informed that her father, King George VI, had passed away. One has to go up steps to get into the lodge. I have stayed at Treetops, and the manager of the lodge lovingly said to me that the princess went up the steps to get into Treetops and walked down as the Queen.
I was brought up in Uganda, which the Queen visited in 1954 to open the Owen Falls Dam. My father met the Queen when she was in Uganda. In our lounge we had a picture of the Queen and a picture of my father with the Queen; I was brought up looking at pictures of the Queen in our house.
Lady Sheikh and I met the Queen on two occasions organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat. Her late Majesty was totally dedicated to the advancement and well-being of the Commonwealth, and her outstanding leadership of it is one of her crowning glories. When she became Queen there were eight members of the Commonwealth; over the years this has grown to 56. She is held in great esteem and respected by the members of the Commonwealth. Some of them have declared days of mourning on her demise.
I am very much involved in charitable work. It has been said that the Queen sprinkled numerous charities with gold dust. She did indeed assist charitable causes, and this came to her naturally. She was a patron of more than 600 charities, and it has been said that she
helped to raise more than £1.5 billion for charitable causes. There are numerous deserving people who are thankful to the Queen for all the humanitarian work she has undertaken.
I have visited a number of countries in different parts of the world and have met many prominent persons, many of whom have sent messages of condolence to me. I noted the comments yesterday on the BBC of His Royal Highness, Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, whom I have met. I also received an email earlier yesterday from the Jordanian Ambassador, His Excellency Mr Manar Dabbas, expressing his condolences.
Her Majesty was Queen to all faiths, beliefs, ethnicities and identities. We recall fondly how in 2002, during her Golden Jubilee tour, she took time to visit a gurdwara in Leicester and a mosque in Scunthorpe. She asked the worshippers in the mosque the direction of Mecca, and gladly received a copy of the Holy Koran in English translation, which is kept in the royal archives at Windsor Castle. Her Majesty’s visit to the mosque was very well received, as it had previously been targeted by extremists.
In the mosque where I prayed yesterday, prayers were said for Her late Majesty. I was deeply moved, as I am sure others were, by the historic speech made by King Charles III to an audience of millions around the world, in which he paid tribute to his mother and made the point that the late Queen’s life was well lived. He also made a promise of long service to the people as King. It was a very well-crafted speech, delivered with sincerity and passion. We are all sure that King Charles will fulfil his pledge to the world, just as his mother did.
God save the King.