Royal Wedding

Last Friday, over 26 million people in this country - and hundreds of millions more worldwide - tuned in to watch Prince William marry Catherine Middleton.  Over a million joined in the festivities in London and more still in street parties across the country.

Naturally I was relieved that the event was not disrupted in any way and I am very grateful to the Metropolitan Police for doing a thoroughly professional job in ensuring the safety of all concerned.

Watching the event, I felt a mix of emotion - pleasure in witnessing such a happy personal story, admiration over the way we do such ceremonial events in Britain, and a surging patriotic pride.

I am, and always will be, the strongest supporter of the monarchy.  I think we are incredibly fortunate as a country to be served by this great institution.  The Queen has been a paragon of duty and public service throughout the 59 years of her reign.

Last year she carried out 444 public engagements, despite having recently celebrated her 85th birthday.

It gave me additional pleasure to see the popular support for the event and indeed the Royal Family.

In a decade, the number of people wanting reform of the monarchy has halved.  One leading historian suggested at the weekend that republican support is now at its lowest ebb since the abdication crisis in 1936. 

I believe that the idea of discarding over a thousand years of history and tradition in favour of a politician or celebrity as our Head of State will never find favour in this country.

It is the constancy of the institution, and the fact that the sovereign is above politics, that gives it such strength.  Our Royal Family and our nation's rich history are the envy of the world.  They define our Britishness in a way that no confected notion of national identity could ever do.

Next year we will celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.  Elizabeth II will be only the second sovereign - after her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria - to have reigned for so long.  It is extraordinary to think that her first Prime Minister was Churchill.

The words of our national anthem sum up my feeling: "Long to reign over us - God Save The Queen."