Queen in nation's heart, says PM
The Queen has served the country with "unerring grace, dignity and decency", Prime Minister David Cameron said in a parliamentary speech to mark the monarch's Diamond Jubilee.
Paying tribute to the Queen, he said the "nation holds her in its heart", telling MPs she had remained "resolutely unchanged in her commitment and studious in her duties" during her 60-year reign.
Mr Cameron said she had travelled more widely than any other head of state in history, meeting some four million people in person and inviting two million guests to tea at Buckingham Palace.
He added: "The nation holds her in its heart, not just as the figurehead of an institution, but as an individual who has served this country with unerring grace, dignity and decency.
"The reign of Queen Elizabeth has been one of unparalleled change. From rationing through to the jet age, to the space age, to the digital age.
"At her first investiture as Queen, the very first decoration she presented was a Victoria Cross for heroism in the Korean War. Since then, members of the armed forces - her armed forces - have been in action all over the world, from Aden to the Falklands, the Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan. Around the world, dictatorships have died and democracies have been born. And across the old British Empire, a vibrant Commonwealth of nations has expanded and flourished."
Mr Cameron joked there were some duties the Queen enjoyed, like presenting medals to the country's troops, and then others which "were more of a chore, like spending New Year's Eve in the Millennium Dome".
"But she has always done her duty and this stability is essential to our national life," the Prime Minister added.
"While the sands of culture shift and the tides of politics ebb and flow, Her Majesty has been a permanent anchor, bracing Britain against the storms, grounding us in certainty and crucially, simultaneously, she has moved the monarchy forward. It has been said that 'the art of progress is to preserve order amid change and change amid order', and in this the Queen is unparalleled."
Mr Cameron made his comments as he proposed a Commons motion calling for "an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty on the occasion of the Sixtieth Anniversary of Her Accession to the Throne".