An MP and former minister has paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth's sometimes "unnervingly frank" comments and "mischievous sense of humour".

In an online statement, Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers offered her condolences to the Royal Family and remembered meeting Queen Elizabeth during her time as Northern Ireland secretary.

She recounted memories of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh's 2014 and 2016 visits to Northern Ireland, adding that her enthusiasm for the area was always clear.

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Ms Villiers said: “She was a remarkable woman with great charm, warmth and kindness, typified by that lovely smile that adorned so many hundreds of millions of images published of her during her record 70-year reign.

"She had a habit of coming out with unnervingly frank and direct comments on matters in the news. And she so often had a twinkle in her eye, deploying that rather mischievous sense of humour of which many have spoken as we mourn her passing.

"I have to confess that I was so star struck in her presence that I scarcely felt able to string a sentence together, but if she noticed that, she was far too kind and polite to say so.

"I recall an audience which she was kind enough to grant me at Hillsborough Castle when she remarked gleefully that she always felt a sense of such excitement flying into Belfast and catching sight of the Harland and Woolf cranes.

"She said 'You know there is only one place in the world you can be when you see those cranes'.

"As Northern Ireland Secretary, I and my team had provided some suggestions on the itinerary for the 2014 visit which I felt might be a little more daring that the usual Royal tour.

"So it was with some nervousness that I arrived at the first stage of the programme at St George’s Market, where Her Majesty mingled amongst the crowds in way which would have been inconceivable in previous years. One teenager even managed to snatch a selfie with Her Majesty!

"She was then escorted around the old Crumlin Road Gaol by the First and Deputy First Ministers, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, both of whom had spent periods incarcerated in it when it was a working prison.

"And finally a walk round the set of Game of Thrones in the Paint Hall Studios became something of a social media phenomenon, though Her Majesty had politely, and perhaps wisely, declined an invitation to sit in the Iron Throne.

I believe history will record her role in promoting peace and reconciliation on the island of Ireland as one of the greatest achievements of Queen Elizabeth II."

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