Lady Allen and I are grateful that you could join us in this brief ceremony to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen, who today became the longest serving monarch in British and English History, reigning for sixty-three years, seven months and two days.
We welcome you to King’s House and to this function.
Her Majesty is Head of the Commonwealth, Great Britain and Queen of the Realm countries including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Jamaica among others. In the realm countries, her responsibilities are delegated to Governors General who serve the government and people on her behalf. She is widely acknowledged for her exemplary service, leadership and her effortless dignity and humility and a generosity of spirit.
Her reign has spanned two centuries, which features tremendous technological, sociological and political changes. Yet, the grace and confidence with which she has embraced each inevitable change is a model for leaders everywhere. Many world leaders and influential persons, not the least of which has been 12 UK Prime Ministers who have gleaned wise counsel from her instructions and their interactions with her.
In addition, her visits to some one hundred and sixteen countries, including those having strained relations with Great Britain have served as a unifying force in the global community of nations.
Jamaica has hosted Her Majesty six times during every decade of her reign except this one. She visited in 1953, 1966, 1975, 1983, 1994, and 2002, the last being the most memorable and interesting one when the lights went out during dinner at King’s House. She was unperturbed.
Other members of the Royal family have also visited on her behalf since the beginning of the new decade in 2010; among them the Princess Royal, Prince Harry, Prince Edward and Prince Charles, previously in 2009. In a few weeks we will again have the pleasure of hosting the Princess Royal for the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award Ceremony.These visits ladies and gentlemen, reflect the warm regard which The Queen and the Royal Family have for Jamaica and which we instinctively reciprocate, notwithstanding the expressed desire for change in our form of government.
Early in Her Majesty’s reign she faced rapid changes in the British Empire, as several countries pursued a path toward independence. The transformation of the Empire into a modern Commonwealth, that has withstood its fair share of challenges, is a credit to her leadership. But her passion for the Commonwealth and her ability to connect with, and unite people are hallmarks of her distinguished reign. There is no question that our Queen has an intimate knowledge of each of the fifty-four Commonwealth countries and knows only too well that the training of young people, who comprise more than half of the population, can only strengthen the fundamental pillars of this unique organization, so that it will deliver the vast opportunities which we envision.
Her Majesty has purposefully requested that events to mark this milestone be devoted to the promotion of education and youth. In organizing this function, great care was taken to secure the participation of students who will this evening honour her in music and speech. I thank them for their participation and willingness to give up some of their holiday to be part of this historic occasion.
A special thanks to the Honourable Prime Minister for attending and sharing in this tribute, also to The Governor-General Secretary (GGS) and committee including Director of State Protocol, Ambassador Eleanor Felix and Master of Ceremony, Ms. Fae Ellington for the planning and execution of this event.
Please join me in wishing Her Majesty good health and God’s grace in the years ahead.