Liz Truss tells MPs the Queen's 'words of wisdom gave us strength in the most testing times'

Ministers have paid tribute to the Queen in the House of Commons. Credit: PA

Prime Minister Liz Truss has paid tribute to the Queen in the House of Commons, saying the monarch's exemplary strength got Britain through its "darkest days".

MPs observed a minute's silence in the Chamber on Friday to pay respect to Her Majesty, The Queen following her death aged 96 on Thursday.

In a poignant moment, a packed Chamber full of sombre MPs dressed in black bowed their heads as they remembered the monarch.

Former prime ministers and senior MPs from all parties have put their political differences aside and united to share personal, touching - and often funny - stories of the monarch.

The new PM said the Queen was "one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known" and said the UK is "the great country it is today because of her".

"During the darkest moments of the pandemic, she gave us hope that we would meet again. She knew this generation of Britons would be as strong as any," she added.

"As we meet today, we remember the pledge she made on her 21st birthday to dedicate her life to service.

"The whole House will agree: never has a promise been so completely fulfilled."

She described how the nation has "witnessed the most heartfelt outpouring of grief", as "crowds have gathered, flags have been lowered to half-mast, tributes have been sent from every continent around the world."

Ms Truss described how the nation is now entering a new “Carolean age” and spoke of her conversation with the King on Thursday night, and ended her speech with "God save the King".

“In an instant yesterday our lives changed forever. Today we show the world that we do not fear what lies ahead," she continued.

“His Majesty King Charles III bears an awesome responsibility that he now carries for all of us. I was grateful to speak to His Majesty last night and offer my condolences,” she added.

“Even as he mourns, his sense of duty and service is clear. He has already made a profound contribution through his work on conservation, education and his tireless diplomacy. We owe him our loyalty and devotion.”

The remarkable life of the Queen remembered in our latest episode of What You Need To Know

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told the Commons “our Queen played a crucial role as the thread between the history we cherish and the present we own”.

He described how the Queen did not simply “reign over us”, but she lived “alongside us”.

"She shared in our hopes and our fears, our joy, and our pain. Our good times and our bad,” he continued.

The Labour leader went on: “Never was this link more important than when our country was plunged into lockdown at the start of the pandemic.

“Her simple message: that we would see family again, that we would see friends again, that we would be together again, gave people strength and courage when they needed it most.

“But it wasn’t simply the message that allowed a shaken nation to draw upon those reserves, it was the fact she was the messenger.”

He added: “At the time we were most alone, at a time we had been driven apart, she held the nation close, in a way no one else could have done. For that, we say: thank you.”

MPs will be making tributes in the Commons until 10pm tonight and will be suspended at 6pm when His Majesty makes his first address to the nation as King.

In a rare sitting, the House will meet again at 1pm on Saturday, where several senior members will be invited to take the oath to the King.

King Charles III greeted hundreds of well-wishers as he arrived at Buckingham Palace on Friday afternoon and looked at the hundreds of bouquets of flowers left in tribute to his late mother at the gates.

In further tributes shared on Friday afternoon, former prime minister Boris Johnson told the Commons he “choked up” when he was asked to record a tribute to the Queen by the BBC several months ago.

“We sat down, the cameras started rolling, and they requested that I should talk about her in the past tense," he recalled.

“I am afraid I simply choked up and I couldn’t go on. I am really not easily moved to tears, but I was so overcome with sadness that I had to ask them to go away.

“I know that today there are countless people in this country and around the world who have experienced the same sudden unexpected emotion.”

Mr Johnson praised the Queen’s “humility” and “refusal to be grand”.

He sparked laughter from the Commons when he said: “Unlike us politicians, with our outriders and our armour-plated convoys, I can tell you as a direct eye witness that she drove herself in her own car with no detectives and no bodyguard, bouncing at alarming speed over the Scottish landscape to the total amazement of the ramblers and the tourists we encountered.”

From the backbenches, he told MPs about his final audience with the Queen, “when she saw off her 14th prime minister, and welcomed her 15th”.

He added: “I can tell you, in that audience, she was as radiant and as knowledgeable and as fascinated by politics as ever I can remember and as wise in her advice as anyone I know, if not wiser.”

Former PM Theresa May reduced the whole House of Commons to laughter with a story about the Queen and some dropped cheese during a weekend at Balmoral.

She told of how she dropped some cheese while they were setting up a picnic and had a "split-decision" to make of whether to leave it on the floor. She picked it up quickly and put it on a plate, pretending nothing had happened.

"I turned round to see that my every move had been watched very carefully by Her Majesty the Queen," she continued.

“I looked at her. She looked at me and she just smiled. And the cheese remained on the table.”

Ms May added that the Queen "wanted all her guests to enjoy themselves" at Balmoral weekends and would even "take an interest at what books were put in your room".

"I am sometimes asked among all the world leaders I met, who was the most impressive. And I have no hesitation in saying that from all the heads of state and government, the most impressive person I met was Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II," she added.

Conservative former leader Sir Iain Duncan appeared visibly emotional as he delivered a poem inspired by W H Auden’s Funeral Blues.

Reciting the poem Commons: “Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, prevent the dogs from barking with a juicy bone, silence the pianos and with muffled drum bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

“She was our north, our south, our east and west, our working week and our Sunday rest, our noon, our midnight, our talk, our song, we thought that love would last for ever: we were wrong.”