Señor Presidente, Primera Dama, sus excelencias, ministros, damas y caballeros,
If I may I should like first of all to thank you, Mr. President and Señora Rivera Peña, for your wonderfully warm welcome and for your generous hospitality.
As I mentioned to you earlier, I first came to Mexico - I hardly dare say this - forty-eight years ago and my wife came here forty-four years ago. I have been here several times since, but this is my wife’s first official visit. So it is a really great pleasure to be able to return to your country during this very special year for both our countries.
On our arrival yesterday afternoon, we visited Real del Monte in the State of Hidalgo, a place where ties of family and culture were forged between our two countries in the early years of an independent Mexico. As Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, it was particularly special for us both to pay tribute to those intrepid Cornish miners who came to Mexico in the early 19th Century and to meet their descendants.
Today, the ties that bind the British and Mexican people are stronger than ever. Whether in business, government, education, science, sport, culture, trade, in fighting international crime, promoting human rights, or protecting the urban and natural environment, I am struck by the fascination that we hold for each others’ cultures – and by the energy and goodwill that are generated when we work together.
I could not be more pleased, therefore, to join with you on this occasion in order to celebrate the fact that this already excellent relationship will be further enhanced over the course of 2015 through both The Year of the U.K. in Mexico and The Year of Mexico in the UK!
The great Mexican writer, Octavio Paz, the hundredth anniversary of whose birth is being marked this year, and who lived in London for almost two decades, wrote movingly of the themes that connect people and nations - “En la actualidad, todos hablamos si no el mismo idioma, sí el mismo lenguaje universal”. [Today we all speak, if not the same tongue, then at least the same universal language]. How fitting this line seems in light of the friendship between our two nations.
I am struck by how likeminded we are in a variety of ways. On the international stage on many fronts, the U.K. and Mexico are close diplomatic partners, and Mexico’s ability to apply calm neutrality and a spirit of friendly solidarity to the global challenges of our day is widely admired, no more so than in the UK. And we will need Mexican leadership more than ever as we approach those other important aspects of 2015 - the formation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Climate Change negotiations which culminate in Paris in December 2015. I think it is no exaggeration to say that 2015 provides a truly critical and perhaps our lastchance to map out a sustainable future for mankind. I am hugely encouraged to know that Britain and Mexico will continue to be close partners in this endeavour, which could not be more important for ourselves and for those who came after us.
The friendship between the United Kingdom and Mexico dates back many centuries. Indeed, the archives of the Inquisition record travellers from the British Isles arriving in the earliest days of New Spain, in the 16th Century. However, if I may say so, it seems to me that we are experiencing a new ímpetus in our relationship, with more of us visiting, working and studying in each others’ countries than ever before. And the commitment the two governments have just made to achieve mutual recognition of educational qualifications will boost this trend further.
Ladies and Gentleman, it seems to me that the people of the United Kingdom are more intrigued by Mexican culture than ever before. We are amazed by your country’s biological and cultural diversity; the strength of your indigenous cultures, the resilience of their agricultural crops and techniques – as I have seen for myself this morning in the Chinampas of Xochimilco; and the vibrancy of your music, art, film and culture. The recent Day of the Dead celebrations, so effectively orchestrated by your excellent Embassy in London at a famous landmark overlooking the river Thames, is símply the latest celebration to attract crowds of thousands, drawn in by their fascination with Mexico. Equally I suspect that Michael Landy’s unique Saints Alive Exhibition at San Ildefonso may prove similarly popular.
In the forthcoming year, our two countries aim to generate a still greater appreciation of what each has to offer the other and, in doing so, foster a momentum that will sustain an even closer, more dynamic partnership for years to come. My wife and I hope that our visit to Mexico this week will help to launch this process. And we are very much looking forward, Mr President, to your own State Visit to the United Kingdom next year.
Indeed, 2015 will provide a feast (or perhaps I should say a fiesta?) of activities that celebrate our relationship, whether in the arts, business, education, science or innovation. Mr. President, the cooperation between the United Kingdom and Mexico is of the greatest importance. Together, I know we will build a legacy that will last well beyond 2015, into the centuries to come.