Baroness Boothroyd remembered at St Margaret's memorial service

Tuesday, 16th January 2024

The congregation reading from orders of service

A Service of Thanksgiving for the life and work of the Right Honourable The Baroness Boothroyd OM was held at St Margaret's Church, Westminster Abbey, on Tuesday 16th January 2024.

The daughter of West Yorkshire mill workers, Betty Boothroyd entered Parliament in 1973 and represented her West Bromwich West constituency as Labour MP until her retirement in 2000. In 1992, she was elected Speaker of the House of Commons, becoming the first woman to hold the position in Parliament’s 700-year history. She died last year at the age of 93.

‘A principled life of public service’

Tuesday’s service was conducted by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle KCVO, who said in his Bidding:

'We gather where she wanted us to be, in the parish church of the House of Commons, the church of Parliament. Here, in a serious house, where hope, discipline, and commitment have been preached and prayed for, we give thanks for the life and work of Betty, Baroness Boothroyd. Here, and together, we celebrate a long life of principled public service shaped by a fearless commitment to the possibility of what parliamentary democracy might be.
We honour the example she left us and remember gladly the fair-minded affection and the capacity for joy with which she graced a great office of state.'

Personal tributes and readings

At the start of the service, Baroness Boothroyd's Order of Merit was borne to the High Altar as Susan Bullock sang Fly home little heart from King's Rhapsody.

Boothroyd Thanksgiving Order Of Merit

Tributes were read by the Lord Cormack and by the Rt Hon the Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, both long-standing friends of Baroness Boothroyd.

The Rt Hon the Lord McFall of Alcluith, Lord Speaker, read Ecclesiastes 3 1-8, 14; and the Rt Hon Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, read Ephesians 6: 10-20. Actress Dame Patricia Routledge gave a reading from Act IV of William Shakespeare's Cymbeline.

Boothroyd Thanksgiving Patricia Routeledge

Prayers were led by the Venerable Tricia Hillas, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons, Canon Steward, and Archdeacon of Westminster.

His Majesty The King was represented at the service by the Rt Hon the Lord Soames of Fletching.