Co-ops pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

Leaders from the Co-op Party and the retail movement are among those paying their respects to Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, who has died aged 96

Co-operators in the UK have been sending condolences to the Royal Family following the news that Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, died today (Thursday, 8 September) at Balmoral Castle. She was 96.

The Queen visited Rochdale in 1994 for the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Rochdale Pioneers’ first store on Toad Lane.

“The Queen and Prince Philip both went to the exhibition held at what is now Touchstones, which was up for the whole year, with information and activities about the development of the co-operative movement,” says Gillian Lonergan, co-op historian. “It was decided that they should go to Touchstones as there was more space for people to gather and meet them rather than at Toad Lane; the necessary security precautions precluded visiting both sites.”

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on a visit to Rochdale in 1994 (Image: Co-operative Heritage Trust)

The Queen also visited Manchester in 2013, when she officially opened the Co-operative Group’s new head office at One Angel Square – which at the time was the greenest building in the world. Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen toured the building before unveiling a plaque to mark the formal opening of the 14-storey building and signing the visitor’s book. Prince Philip had opened the CIS building in 1962.

Queen Elizabeth II with the One Angel Square visitor’s book (Image: Co-operative Group)

“On behalf of @coopuk I would like to offer our deepest condolences to the Royal Family, following the news about the passing of Her Royal Highness, the Queen,” wrote Co-operative Group CEO, Shirine Khoury-Haq, on Twitter. “Our thoughts are with the Royal Family, and we join all others who will be reflecting on her historic reign.”

Tributes were paid by other co-operative retail societies including Midcounties Co-operative and Central England Co-operative, while the Co-op Party announced it has suspended all campaign activity and events until further notice as a mark of respect.

“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Her Majesty the Queen,” said Jim McMahon MP, chair of the Co-operative Party.

“She has served our country with distinction over the past 70 years, and in the coming days, our nation will come together to mourn and remember her extraordinary contribution to British life. I send the thoughts and condolences of our Party and our movement to her family.” 

A commemorative tin produced by the CWS Confectionary works on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation (Image: Co-operative Heritage Trust)

The Co-operative Heritage Trust has shared a number of items from its collection to pay tribute, including a commemorative tin produced by the CWS Confectionary works to mark her coronation in 1953, and a special edition of The Co-operative Home Magazine, produced by the CWS.

Home Magazine – Editor’s letter on the occasion of the Queen’s coronation (Image: Co-operative Heritage Trust)

“We are saddened to hear that Queen Elizabeth II, our longest reigning monarch has passed away,” said a statement from the Trust. “We wanted to share this sentiment from the editor of the Co-operative Home Magazine in volume 58 published for the coronation in 1953.

“’We respectfully extend to Queen Elizabeth the Second, the earnest hope that she will enjoy a long and happy reign in an era of lasting world peace and human progress.

“During the Queen’s reign a lot has happened in our movement and in the fabric of the nation. Her Majesty’s passing marks the end of the Elizabethan era and as such we would like to extend our condolences to her family and those in mourning for their head of state.

“Moments like this bring people and communities together, which is what our movement is all about.”

The CWS celebrates the Queen’s coronation (Image: Co-operative Heritage Trust)

More to follow.