It was the late Queen’s 32nd Great Grandfather who sowed the seeds of the British monarchy – and he did it right here in Somerset over a thousand years ago.

When the Vikings overran England, Wessex became their final target. Six miles outside North Petherton lies the village of Athelney. This is where King Alfred of Wessex regrouped with his followers and built an army fit to defeat the Danish invaders for good. King Alfred won back Wessex, earned the name “Alfred the Great” and secured the Royal history of our nation.

There have been 61 Kings and Queens over the years. Their origins were Anglo-Saxon, Norman, Plantagenet, rivals from the Houses of York and Lancaster, Tudors, Stuarts, and finally Hanoverians. The longest serving of them all has been our late Queen Elizabeth.

Her extraordinary wealth of experience and service helps to explain why we are all mourning her now.

She touched so many lives by example. She impressed everyone with her attention to detail and wealth of knowledge. She held weekly private audiences with 15 Prime Ministers and became a source of sane advice.

She was so much more than a figurehead. It is thanks to the late Queen that we have a thriving and expanding Commonwealth. She believed in it, fought for it tirelessly and won friends across the globe because of her efforts.

She loved her country– and provided a lasting sense of unity and purpose. Nobody did ceremonials better. And very few Monarchs have had that rare ability to make everyone feel special, wanted and cared about. She could also make us laugh. Last week the former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, described her movingly as “Elizabeth the Great”. I endorse that sentiment absolutely.