Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

The Queen urges country to seek common ground in apparent reference to vitriolic Brexit debate

Monarch says people should never lose sight of the bigger picture

Friday 25 January 2019 01:33 GMT
Queen arrives at Women's Institute in Sandringham

The Queen has urged people to seek common ground and to never lose sight of the bigger picture in what is likely to be interpreted as a reference to the often vitriolic debate over Brexit.

In a speech to the mark the centenary of the Sandringham Women’s Institute (WI), the Queen echoed the message from her Christmas Day address, calling for people to respect the views of those they do not agree with.

As head of state, the Queen is required to remain politically neutral, but her words are likely to be seen as a veiled attempt to reverse the current tenor of public debate as opinion polls reveal a deeply divided country and politicians suffer harassment outside parliament.

MPs remains split over the way forward, with politicians on all sides engaged in wrangling as the date for Britain leaving the EU – 29 March – draws ever closer.

The Queen, who is president of the Sandringham WI and has been a member since 1943, said: “Reflecting on a century of change, it is clear that the qualities of the WI endure.

“The continued emphasis on patience, friendship, a strong community-focus, and considering the needs of others, are as important today as they were when the group was founded all those years ago. Of course, every generation faces fresh challenges and opportunities.

“As we look for new answers in the modern age, I for one prefer the tried and tested recipes, like speaking well of each other and respecting different points of view; coming together to seek out the common ground; and never losing sight of the bigger picture. To me, these approaches are timeless, and I commend them to everyone.”

In her Christmas address, the Queen touched on the same theme, telling the nation: “Even with the most deeply held differences, treating the other person with respect and as a fellow human being is always a good first step towards greater understanding.”

The Queen attends a meeting of her local WI once a year at West Newton village hall as part of her winter stay on her Norfolk estate.

This year television presenter Alexander Armstrong led the group in a game of Pointless. The meeting split into two teams with one captained by the Queen – who triumphed in the end.

Additional reporting by PA

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in