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Celebrating Her Majesty the Queen's Record-breaking Reign
On 9th Sep., Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second became the longest-reigning monarch in more than a thousand years of British history.
To celebrate the historic event His Excellency James Dauris, the British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Maldives, hosted a reception at his residence in Colombo, Westminster House.
The President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena, graced the occasion as the Guest of Honour. Former President Mrs Kumaratunga, the Honourable Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe also graced the celebration, together with politicians, businessmen, religious leaders and representatives of the international community and civil society.
In his address, the High Commissioner spoke about The Queen and the importance to Her Majesty of the Commonwealth. He said:
“Yesterday, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth became the longest reigning monarch in British history by breaking the record until now held by her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria. The Queen came to the throne on 6th February 1952, 63 years and seven months ago. The word “extraordinary” is much over-used but we will all agree that Her Majesty’s record-breaking reign has been, quite literally, extraordinary.
“The Queen’s relationship with Sri Lanka is, for her, an especially personal one. A decision was reached by Elizabeth’s prime ministers at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference of 1952, whereby the Queen would accord herself different styles and titles in each of her realms, reflecting that in each state she acted as monarch of that particular country, regardless of her other roles. Here in Ceylon for twenty years until 1972 her official title was “Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Ceylon and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth”. As Queen she spent two weeks here in April 1954 and she made her second visit in October 1981 as Head of the Commonwealth.
“The Queen ranks the responsibility for nurturing the Commonwealth as one of her most important roles. Its success is one of her proudest achievements. Looking back over more than sixty years that have seen great change around the world, one can see that Her Majesty’s role has been vital and inspirational. The Commonwealth as an institution has grown from a small group of nations to an association of 53 independent countries spanning six continents and over 2 billion people. As head of the Commonwealth, the Queen exercises a peaceful, courteous and trust-inspiring influence over lands that are home to more than a quarter of the population of the world. Her quiet diplomacy, subtle encouragement and unifying presence over the past 63 years has helped shape this large and disparate group of nations around the principles of democracy, equality and peace.
“Every year since she came to the throne the Queen has made a Christmas broadcast. In December 1953 the Queen made her broadcast from Auckland. She was in New Zealand on the world tour that brought her to Ceylon a few months later. She was 27 years old at the time. In her broadcast she said of the Commonwealth, “It is an entirely new conception, built on the highest qualities of the spirit of man: friendship, loyalty and the desire for freedom and peace. To that new conception of an equal partnership of nations and races I shall give myself heart and soul every day of my life.”
“In a speech Her Majesty gave during her second visit to Sri Lanka in October 1981 at the celebration of 50 years of adult franchise here she said: “Britain and Sri Lanka have had a long association, which has remained cordial throughout all the constitutional changes affecting our relationship, and our two countries now stand together as equal, independent members of the Commonwealth. We may be geographically far apart, but through our historic links and our common beliefs, we have developed feelings of mutual regard which overcome the tyranny of distance. We are friends and shall remain so.”
“As we celebrate Her Majesty’s becoming our longest-reigning monarch, these words stand as true today as they were 34 years ago.”
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