THE passing of Queen Elizabeth II offers an opportunity to pause, to remember, to reflect – and to be thankful.

Thankful for the life and work of Her Late Majesty – and to remember what she meant for communities across East Lothian.

This is what I did in Parliament on Tuesday when I used a speech to pay tribute to the Queen. In my contribution, I noted that almost everyone felt they knew the Queen – even those who had never met her.

For my late grandmother, she was the “sister she never met”. But others were, of course, privileged to meet or to work with the Queen – like Pat Morris, from Gullane, who spent two hours with the Queen at Balmoral photographing her dogs.

She said in a recent edition of the Courier: “I completely forgot who I was talking to… she was friendly, kind, amusing and very natural.”

I noted in my speech that Kipling laid the challenge of being able to “walk with kings nor lose the common touch”. The Queen was rooted at the heart of our communities and, while her reign was regal, it was never remote.

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Visiting Haddington in 2007, the Queen met representatives of the Lamp of Lothian Trust, which brings together the community by restoring derelict buildings, making them available for community use.

On her visit to the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick in 2009, Her Majesty and Prince Philip joined my constituent Rear Admiral Neil Rankin to present volunteers with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise.

When you look back at these visits, it is clear to see that the Queen had an innate capacity to bring our communities together.

The Queen brought her own sense of majesty to our monarchy. And through her death, just as she did in life, she brought unity to our communities and our nation.