‘She loved coming to Camden’: Local politicians pay tribute to the Queen’s ‘grace and kindness’

The Queen at Swiss Cottage Library in 1964. Photograph: Camden Council

“The Queen said she loved coming to Camden,” local councillors recalled as they recounted how they loved welcoming the late monarch to the borough.

The Queen’s warmth, public service and sense of humour were praised as Camden’s politician’s mourned her passing.

The borough’s councillors spent their full council meeting sharing memories about her and expressing condolences to the Royal Family at their loss.

The Queen’s extensive list of official engagements in Camden included opening ceremonies at Swiss Cottage Library, Euston Station, the Royal Free Hospital, St Pancras International Station, the British Library, the Ashworth Centre in Lincoln’s Inn, the Chinese Community Centre and the Francis Crick  Institute.

Councillors held a minute’s silence in honour of the Queen and her 70-year reign.

Council leader Georgia Gould said: “Queen Elizabeth was a visible embodiment of a life lived in service to the public, both in her commitment to citizens, to the country, but also in small moments and the examples of grace and kindness that will be remembered.”

She added that in 1952 when the Queen ascended the throne, Winston Churchill said: “Famous have been the reigns of our queens. Some of the greatest periods of history have unfolded under their scatter.”

Cllr Gould said: “We can’t know how much it’s changed our country to be led by a woman through good times and bad with such purpose and integrity.”

She added: “I remember at the height of Covid sitting down to watch the Queen’s message to the nation.

“We were trying to serve our community and come to terms with what the pandemic meant for us.

“Seeing Queen Elizabeth – who by then 2020 had lived through the Blitz, Cold War, fall of the Berlin Wall, had seen 12 US presidents, 14 British Prime Ministers, recessions, good times and bad – being a point of continuity felt deeply reassuring.

“I remember feeling surprised at how emotional I felt when she ended with ‘We’ll meet again’.

“She represented stability, unity and a sense of there always being light at the end of the tunnel.”

The Queen opens Euston Station in 1968. Photograph: Camden Council

Opposition leader Liberal Democrat Tom Simon praised the Queen’s service and “the great presence as a rock in our national psyche”.

“She was the foundation on which the edifice of our nation has rested for so many years,” he added.

“She will be sorely missed. I suspect a lot of us will be pinching ourselves for some time to come to realise that yes, she has gone.”

Conservative leader Gio Spinella spoke about the impact of bereavement on the community and how it reminds people of their own losses in their familiies.

“Her Majesty’s passing points in all of us to an echo of our loss,” he said.

Green councillor Sian Berry recalled the Queen’s visit to Swiss Cottage library by reading a passage from Camden author Alan Bennett’s fictional account of the Queen’s discovery of a travelling library and her pleasure in reading where she could be anonymous and unrecognisable.

She also urged people to show compassion and kindness to those mourning her loss.

Cllr Julian Fulbrook recalled how the Queen told him she rarely had to introduce herself to anyone when he asked her if she found official visits trying.

Another former mayor, Jonathan Simpson, remembered how the Queen responded with a warm hug for a litte boy who ran up and embraced her during a visit to St Mary and St Pancras Primary School.

Mayor Nasim Ali recalled meeting the Queen at King’s Cross Station in 2003 and said she “was such an amazing and joyful person”.

A book of condolence has been opened at the Crowndale Centre for people to share their memories.

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