Tributes from the East of England to Queen with 'unwavering devotion' to UK

  • Tributes poured in from across the region, as ITV News Anglia's Rob Setchell reports

Former Prime Minister Sir John Major led tributes from people across the East of England to the Queen, after her death on Thursday at the age of 96.

High-profile figures, including celebrities and political and religious leaders, have paid their respects to the monarch.

Many praised her sense of duty, while others highlighted her famous sense of humour.

Sir John, who served as prime minister between 1990 and 1997 while he was the Huntingdon MP, told ITV News that The Queen had been "in the warp and weft of our lives for 70 years".

That was a view echoed by Christian leaders, including The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, who said that the Queen reigned for 70 years "out of a deep sense of God’s calling upon her life" and also recalled the "very fond memories" he shared with her on her frequent visits to Norfolk.

“Her Majesty’s visits to Norfolk, to her beloved Sandringham, meant that she has been held in special esteem and fondness in the County of Norfolk and Diocese of Norwich," he said.

The Dean of Chelmsford, the Very Revd Nicholas Henshall, added that the Queen's faith "formed and influenced the manner in which she has lived her life."

Meanwhile, The Lady Dannatt MBE, who was made Norfolk's first female Lord-Lieutenant by the Queen, described Her Majesty as someone "who quite simply broke the mould" and added that she stood for "absolute integrity, committed and unwavering service to her nation and the Commonwealth, and a deep and abiding love for her family."

West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock said the Queen was "a rock of stability for our nation". Credit: ITV News Anglia

Among the region’s MPs to pay their respects was Matt Hancock, who laid a wreath in Newmarket, the horseracing town that meant so much to the Queen.

He said: “The Queen has been a rock of stability for our nation, and the world, throughout her 70 years on the throne. Queen Elizabeth II embodied so much of our shared history and she represented our great nation to the world.“

Jerome Mayhew, the MP for Norfolk’s Broadland constituency, was among the crowds at Buckingham Palace on Thursday night. He said: “She was dedicated, responsible, reliable and a role model for us all. She has been a part of all our families and it is as a family member that we all mourn Her Majesty tonight.”

That family link was echoed by Julie Marson, the member for Hertford and Stortford, who paid tribute to the Queen’s “truly remarkable dedication and dignity for seven decades”.

She added: “Queen Elizabeth II was a link to the past, our country’s past but also to our own parents and grandparents.”

South Northamptonshire MP Andrea Leadsom called her “a beacon of purpose and continuity”, adding: “Her commitment to duty, service and faith was steadfast, as was her deep understanding of people and British life.”

Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, said the monarch’s death was “the end of an era”, adding: “She has been a constant fixture exemplifying the values of service and dignity. So many people will remember her visits to our great city and mourn her passing.”

As the country begins a period of mourning to remember the Queen, flags have been lowered to half-mast at council buildings - including at Norwich's City Hall and Cambridge's Guildhall.

The mayor of Cambridge, Mark Ashton, offered the royal family "heartfelt condolences" on behalf of the city and vowed to honour Her Majesty's "remarkable reign and legacy".

The leader of Essex County Council, Kevin Bentley, paid tribute to the "incredible contribution" the Queen made to the country during her reign, while Jonathan Nunn, leader of West Northamptonshire Council, said Her Majesty would be remembered as a "wonderful, kind and caring person with a big personality".

The Queen holds a particularly special place in the hearts of the people of Milton Keynes, Southend and Colchester, after all three towns were officially awarded city status earlier this year as part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Colchester became the third city in Essex this year Credit: ITV News Anglia

The mayor of Milton Keynes, Amanda Marlow, said that the city was "profoundly honoured" to have been created in the modern Elizabethan age, while the mayor of Colchester, Tim Young, described Her Majesty as "an exceptional person who dedicated her life to her family, her nation, and to the Commonwealth".

The Queen spent many happy Christmases at Sandringham, and Norfolk's Chief Constable Paul Sanford said that the county's constabulary had "a long and proud history" of serving Her Majesty and her family over the years.

There was a similarly heartfelt message from Suffolk’s Acting Chief Constable Rachel Kearton who described the Queen's "unwavering devotion to the entire country and selfless work as head of state” as a “shining example to us all", while Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service's chief fire officer, Andrew Hopkinson, said Her Majesty had been "such an inspiration to so many."

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