It’s now almost a month since we held the funeral for Her Majesty, the late Queen Elizabeth.
This, whilst a sad moment, was also a moment that brought the country together in collective grief and in thanks for her remarkable record of service.
Those moments of national unity are what defines our country.
From our defiant blitz spirit to our simple acts of collective kindness witnessed during the lockdown, we are at our best when we are united and feel connected to each other in grief or in celebration.
After all, it wasn’t just in death that The Queen brought us together, her whole live was dedicated to uniting us.
With such a record of service to us here in the UK but also in the Commonwealth, surely the question that should face us all now is how can we honour that legacy and continue that record of service to us even in death?
It is my heartfelt view that the best possible legacy for Her Majesty would be to have a new bank holiday, dedicated to her memory and focussed on bringing people together – Elizabeth Day.
This idea already has huge backing from businesses.
Ranging from supermarkets like Iceland to the biggest business groups like the CBI, UK Hospitality, and the British Retail Consortium.
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Charities back it too from the Scouts and the Guides to the Royal Voluntary Service and the Together Coalition.
Over 150,000 people have already signed a petition to make it happen and now MPs and Peers are getting behind it, from right across the political divide.
The unprecedented support reflects the huge esteem in which Her Majesty is still held.
But it’s also because people instinctively know it’s what we need – that it’s would be good for us all.
We have too few moments when we come together as a country. Unlike the US we don’t have an Independence Day or Thanksgiving.
Unlike France we don’t celebrate the storming of the Bastille and unlike Spain we don’t have a constitution day.
Some might think that that doesn’t matter – oh but it it does.
Because what a country commemorates, celebrates and honours is an indication of its values.
More than that, days like this can become an annual promise to try and maintain certain principles in the future.
And they can tell a story of the country we already are and want to be.
Perhaps even more importantly they provide an opportunity to reconnect with friends and neighbours in our communities.
Days like this provide an opportunity to reconnect with friends and neighbours in our communities.
Ian Duncan Smith
We know that neighbourhoods where people support each other are safer, healthier and happier places to live.
But in our pressurised lives, we have less chance to meet each other than ever before.
That means there’s a huge growth in isolation making some people’s lives, particularly the elderly, lonely.
Too many neighbourhoods feel like places we sleep in, rather than communities we belong in.
And what better way to get to know each other than eating, drinking and celebrating together.
‘Connected as a country’
Elizabeth Day could be celebrated in many different ways. I know some would use it to volunteer in their communities – a way of honouring Her Majesty’s own dedication to public service.
It might become a day when we clean up our communities and help each other out. It might also be celebrated by local get togethers from street parties to barbeques.
A chance to have fun together and meet new people.
But whatever we do, it would help us feel closer to each other and more connected as a country.
I know there are many other ways to honour Her Majesty’s legacy, from statues to books, to works of art.
Valuable as these are, they could seem distant and lacking in the common touch.
We, her onetime subjects, need something locked into our everyday lives – into our communities.
We, her onetime subjects, need something locked into our everyday lives – into our communities
Ian Duncan Smith
Something we can all feel part of as we come together to commemorate and celebrate her impact on our country.
Elizabeth Day would give us pause in our busy lives as we commemorate her record of selfless service as an abiding lesson to us all.
Government has a huge amount to contend with right now from the backdrop of inflation and war in Europe to the usual rancour of political debate.
This may tempt some to see this proposal as trivial but it’s not.
Now more than ever we need to come together and learning from Queen Elizabeth’s incredible record of service through war and peace, find common cause to defeat the challenges confronting us all.
Elizabeth Day would be such a moment and in death as in life her incredible unifying message could reverberate through our celebrations and help bring us all together.
Queen Elizabeth II was our longest serving monarch and as Parliament returns, I hope MPs across the House of Commons and Peers in the Lords will call on the government to heed this cry that comes from the hearts of so many people across the land.