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GRAN OF THE PEOPLE; Queen Mother: 1900-2002 : Blair leads nation's tributes to woman of charm, faith, courage and quiet dignity.

TRIBUTES poured in last night for the lady who became 'the nation's gran'.

Many recalled her indomitable spirit, her sense of duty to her country and her personal warmth and grace.

Prime Minister Tony Blair led the nation's mourning.

He said: "During her long and extraordinary life, her grace, her sense of duty and her remarkable zest for life made her loved and admired by people of all ages and backgrounds.

"She was part of the fabric of our nation and we were immensely proud of her. Her bravery when she refused point blank to leave London and her husband's side during the Blitz epitomised both her own indomitable spirit and the spirit of the nation in its darkest hours.

"Later, as Queen Mother, she was a unifying figure for Britain, loved by all, sharing in its joys and troubles.

"Throughout the Commonwealth and the world she was greeted with instant affection and acclaim.

"Above all she was motivated by the most powerful sense of duty and service, enhanced by her profound religious conviction.

"She believed that the Royal Family's role and duty was to serve the British nation and she carried out that duty with total and selfless devotion."

Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith said: "The affection in which the Queen Mother was held throughout the nation was evident during the celebrations that took place for her 100th birthday.

"Throughout her married life, the Queen Mother was a tower of strength to her husband and together they ensured the survival of the monarchy.

"People of my parents' generation remember the leadership and inspiration that the then King and Queen gave during the darkest days of the last war.

"My generation will never forget the emotion of her appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 1995 to recreate the scene on VE day 50 years before.

"We will all miss her enormously because she was the best of us."

Scotland's First Minister Jack McConnell added: "On behalf of the country of her upbringing, I would like to pay tribute to her tremendous public service.

"The Queen Mother had a special relationship with Scotland and Scots had a special affection for her.

"Her dedication brought joy to countless people and Scots from every walk of life will mourn her death."

The Rt Rev John Miller, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: "Her prominent role in public life for 65 years meant she was imprinted into the lives of millions of people.

"She was a person of faith, who was glad of the disciplines of prayer and public worship.

"Last September I was sharing in the service in Crathie Church, and afterwards I sat with her at Balmoral as she reflected on some of the things which had been in the service.

"The unending interest shown by the media meant that we in the public have been aware of the importance she has had within the life of her own family."

The Archbishop of Glasgow, the Most Reverend Mario Conti, paid tribute on behalf of the Catholic community in Scotland.

He said: "I wish to express my deepest condolences to the Royal Family on the occasion of the death of Her Majesty the Queen Mother."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, said: "We are all the poorer because this gracious lady has been taken from us.

"She had a deep and sustaining faith and lived her life in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life, a resurrection which we celebrate at this Eastertide. Christian love shone through her character.

"We pray God will comfort Her Majesty the Queen and the rest of the Royal Family in their bereavement."

Scottish Secretary Helen Liddell said: "She was a truly Scottish Queen and her love of Scotland stayed with her to the end. I send my condolences to the Queen and the Royal Family."

Scottish Conservative Party leader David McLetchie said: "The Queen Mother represented the continuity and strength of the British monarchy and its central role in unifying our nation. She exemplified the tremendous value that the institution brings to our country and how much better we are served by it than we would be by any of its alternatives.

"The leadership and inspiration that she and the King gave to Britain during the war was instrumental in ensuring her lasting place in the hearts of our nation."

And SNP leader John Swinney said: "Her Majesty the Queen Mother has had a long and devoted life of public service and has carried out her role of leadership with dignity.

"The Queen Mother was born in Scotland and retained a very strong devotion to this country and she will be missed by many across Scotland."

Former SNP leader Alex Salmond shared a personal recollection of the Queen Mother.

He said: "At the unveiling of the memorial to the Piper Alpha victims in Aberdeen over ten years ago - when she was already into her nineties - she took the time to speak to every one of the bereaved families, despite the extreme heat of the day.

"For that - and countless other similar acts - the Queen Mother will leave an enormous gap in our public life."

Former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher also recalled the Queen Mum's inspiration during the war. She said: "Throughout her life she never failed to lift our spirits.

"Her death is more than a source of grief to the Royal Family. It is an irreplaceable loss to the whole nation."

Scottish Parliament Presiding Officer Sir David Steel said: "She was a great daughter of Scotland who has given so many decades of outstanding public service to the nation.

"On behalf of the Scottish Parliament, I convey our deepest sympathy to the Royal Family."

And Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace added: "The Queen Mother was a remarkable lady, whose long life was indeed a life of service.

"In the 1940s her spirit was a source of inspiration and encouragement to a country at war. In peacetime, she brought cheer to millions through visits, attendance at events, and support for many worthwhile causes"

Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid said: "The Queen Mother touched the hearts of generations of men and women in Northern Ireland.

"I know that the Queen Mother had a special fondness for this part of the United Kingdom and that was reciprocated by the deep affection of so many in Northern Ireland for her gentleness and warmth.

"There will be a profound sense of sadness among many across Northern Ireland but also a deep gratitude for a life filled with selfless service which represented everything that is best about the British nation."

London mayor Ken Livingstone said: "I would like to offer my condolences to

the Royal Family on behalf of the people of London.

"The Queen Mother held a special place in the hearts of many Londoners who remember her decision to stay here during the Blitz."

Jockey Willie Carson, who was a friend of the Queen Mother and rode her horses throughout his career, said: "She went out of her way to make you feel at ease.

"Out of any community in the country, racing will mourn her the most.

"She put racing on the front pages. The Queen Mother was the greatest ambassador racing ever had."

A spokesman for the Royal British Legion said: "Her Majesty celebrated 75 years as president of our women's section three year's ago.

"She was very closely involved with the Legion for nearly 80 years and was a constant source of inspiration."

Dr Beverly Malone, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "The Queen Mother gave a lifetime of dedication to public service and was a patron of many causes, including the RCN.

"Our thoughts and sympathies are with the Queen and the rest of the Royal Family at this sad time."
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 31, 2002
Words:1311
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