- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 1, 2002

LONDON Queen Elizabeth II thanked the British people for their loyalty through "50 unforgettable years" of her reign and declared her resolve yesterday to remain on the throne.

In Parliament's medieval Westminster Hall, the 76-year-old monarch received the thanks of the nation in speeches from the House of Lords and the House of Commons at the ceremonial opening of her Golden Jubilee.

Then, in a rare personal speech, she praised a moderate and tolerant nation and "the timeless values that guide us."

"I would like to express my pride in our past and my confidence in our future," the queen said in a nationwide broadcast.

"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," said the queen.

At an age when most people have retired, the queen shares some duties with her 53-year-old son and heir, Prince Charles, but has made clear she intends to remain on the throne for life.

The queen's jubilee schedule, beginning today, takes her on a monthlong tour of the United Kingdom and brings her back to London for parades, parties and concerts from June 1 to 4.

Yesterday's speeches were warm and informal but the ceremony, in a hall where so many momentous events have taken place, was full of tradition and color.

The queen's limousine, with her royal standard fluttering on the hood, drew up at the entrance as the bells of Westminster Abbey pealed for her arrival.

Inside, the State Trumpeters, dressed in heavily embroidered golden tabards, sounded a fanfare as the queen and her husband, Prince Philip, walked along a red carpet and up the steps to a pair of crimson and gilt chairs.

The queen was symbolically protected by the Yeoman of the Guard in famous "Beefeater" garb of scarlet tunics and white neck-ruffs, and by the Honorable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms with their plumed helmets.

Three weeks ago, hundreds of thousands of people filed through the same hall to pay their respects at the coffin of Queen Mother Elizabeth.

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 only sister, Princess Margaret, died, "will begin to fade in the warmth of the affection of your people."

Michael Martin, speaking for the House of 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 legislators in a way she very rarely can expressing her own thoughts, rather than those of the government.

She noted 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.

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

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