Queen tells of 'resolve to continue' on throne

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The Queen dismissed standing down in favour of the Prince of Wales yesterday in a speech to both Houses of Parliament marking 50 years on the throne.

Speaking in Westminster Hall, she told of her "resolve" to continue as head of state and thanked the people of Britain for "50 unforgettable years".

The Queen, 76, told the audience of 1,800 MPs and peers: "I would like above all to declare my resolve to continue, with the support of my family, to serve the people of this great nation of ours to the best of my ability through the changing times ahead."

Tony Blair's official spokesman said the Prime Minister hoped she would reign "for years to come". Mr Blair told the BBC of his close relationship with the Queen, describing her as a "source of tremendous wisdom and experience".

Graham Allen, a former Labour whip, said: "Discussions should take place in the strictest confidence so that an announcement can be made enabling the Queen to step down to national acclaim and gratitude."