Councillors in Enfield came together to pay their respects to the late Queen Elizabeth II during a poignant full council meeting.
Members from both sides of the political divide gave heartfelt tributes to the late sovereign, who passed away earlier this month at the age of 96.
Councillors related their anecdotes of meeting the Queen, gave emotional speeches about the impact of her death, and praised her sense of duty and her dedication to public service.
Queen Elizabeth II was the UK’s longest-reigning monarch, having been on the throne for more than 70 years. Councillors praised her ability to unite people – and while there was some uncertainty about the passing of the second Elizabethan age, there was also optimism about the reign of her successor, King Charles III.
Introducing the meeting on Wednesday, September 21, Enfield mayor Cllr Doris Jiagge described the Queen as “a remarkable woman and a remarkable monarch, who dedicated 70 years of her life to serving the people of the UK and Commonwealth with dedication, grace and dignity”.
The Queen visited Enfield twice, in 1983 and 2003. The mayor said she “was always popular and well-respected by the borough’s residents”, adding that her loss “will be keenly felt for many years to come”.
Council leader Cllr Nesil Caliskan said the Queen was “a constant in the lives of the majority of us” and “the figurehead that many in our nation turned to for comfort and reassurance at times of uncertainty and distress”. She added: “From world war to global pandemic, she demonstrated a leadership that millions welcomed when she spoke – at often what felt like the exact right moment.”
Cllr Caliskan said the late sovereign provided a link to her grandparents, as her grandmother had told her that a portrait of the Queen had hung on the wall of her classroom in Cyprus.
Cllr Alessandro Georgiou, leader of the Conservative opposition, said the Queen had given “nothing but devotion, love and dedicated service to us all as her loyal subjects”.
He also noted the relevance to the council of the Queen’s role as head of the Commonwealth, saying: “Did we believe, when the borough was founded in 1965, we would have members elected throughout the years who were either born in, or whose heritage was from, Ghana, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Cyprus, and other countries throughout the Commonwealth?”
Fellow Conservative Cllr James Hockney said that “over the tumultuous tides of history”, the Queen had been a “steadying hand over troubled waters” and “our nation’s north star – ever present and ever dependable over 70 years”.
Labour’s Cllr Doug Taylor said the death of the Queen had led to a “period of uncertainty”. Noting how much the world had changed over her reign, he said she was “the glue that kept the Commonwealth together” and suggested “Elizabeth the Revered” was “the most appropriate epitaph for her”.
Councillors also paid tribute to the Queen’s sense of humour and curiosity about people, recalling how she would take an interest in everyone she spoke to.
Conservative councillor Mike Rye recalled how, on a visit to Enfield, a stallholder had looked at the Queen’s brooch and said: “‘That is a wonderful piece of bling, your majesty, would you like me to give you a price for it?’” She replied: “Erm, that has been in my family rather a long time!”
Labour’s Kate Anolue said she “vividly” remembered the Queen’s visit to Nigeria in 1956, when she was a young girl. Cllr Anolue said the first place that she had wanted to go to after she came to the UK was Buckingham Palace. Later, she had been lucky enough to meet the Queen at a garden party and, as mayor of Enfield, to celebrate her jubilee.
Conservative Andrew Thorp recalled how he had been a recipient of the Queen’s Scout Award and had been asked to present the Queen with a birthday gift at Windsor Castle. He said: “As I tried to congratulate her and wish her a happy birthday, she just wanted to know about my award, and what I had achieved, and the adventures I’d had.”
Cllr Thorp said, when the Queen met people, “there was always a smile, there was always an enquiring question, and an ability to make you feel special”.
Labour councillor Tim Leaver paid tribute to the Queen’s “unwavering public service right until the end”. He added: “She was an example to us all of the importance of duty and public service, and we all thank her for that. And we all know that Charles III shares that devotion, that duty and public service, and we wish him health and a long life as he begins his reign.”
After two hours of tributes, the meeting ended with the singing of the new national anthem, God Save The King.
A debate about the Local Plan, which had been previously scheduled to take place at Wednesday’s meeting, is now set to go ahead at a meeting on October 12.