2012 has been an incredible year for Great Britain with the London Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee, reminding the world, and indeed ourselves what it is to be British, writes Tobias Ellwood MP.
Both events served to illustrate what a proud nation we are and the influential role the monarchy plays in defining who we are, what we stand for and how we are perceived.
And for this, Her Majesty the Queen has for 60 years played such a pivotal role, she is arguably the most respected and admired public figure in the world.
Indeed, of all the forty-one monarchs who have reigned over England and the United Kingdom since William the Conqueror, only Her Majesty and Queen Victoria have reached this diamond jubilee land mark. The scale of celebration witnessed in cities, towns and villages across the country a few months ago, brought people together of all ages in the form of street parties, concerts and festivities. It reflected in perfect clarity the appreciation and reverence she has earned following an extraordinary life of constant and tireless service to the nation.
It therefore seemed entirely appropriate for Parliament to pay tribute to her Majesty with a similar honour, and in symmetry, to that bestowed upon Queen Victoria, by dedicating part of the iconic Parliamentary estate to Queen Elizabeth II. Of course, the 13 tonne famous bell is affectionately known as ‘Big Ben’ this will not change.
But I am delighted the majority of front and back benchers from all Parties approved the re-naming of the tower itself. The 'Elizabeth Tower' is now a simple yet symbolic gesture in ensuring future generations are reminded of why the Queen’s 60 years of committed service, which has helped shape a nation and hold it together, should be singled out.
With the renaming of the clock tower, we are not just paying tribute to a devoted and dignified life of public service but to the stewardship of a nation which has countenanced the demise of an empire with the formation of a Commonwealth (which in 1952 had just eight members compared with 54 today). The Queen has been a reassuring and enduring source of stability, security and inspiration; a permanent anchor in a fast moving world, preserving and promoting Britain's place in what is now a global community.
Tobias Ellwood is MP for Bournemouth East