St George’s Day – England’s national day – couldn’t fall on a more appropriate date: the anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death.
This year marks 400 years since the passing of the world’s greatest writer.
Yet his words about this nation, “this precious stone set in the silver sea,” remain as potent as the day he wrote them.
Shakespeare’s genius captivated and changed the world, and men and women across England continue to do that today.
I think of the Malaysian football fans cheering on English clubs, the Chinese children reciting English poems, the English bands blaring from Brazilian radios, English charities and aid money saving African lives, and English soldiers’ names – so many of them – carved onto white stone in foreign fields.
For many years, St George’s Day hasn’t had the recognition it deserves.
Perhaps our stiff upper lip has been too stiff.
But it is vital to let our pride and patriotism show, remembering who we are and what has made us great.
Because this is a country that is practical and passionate.
That is fiercely independent and sticks with its allies.
That’s how we helped win 2 world wars, it’s how we invented so much, created so much, it’s how we became part of the proudest multi-racial, multi-ethnic democracy on earth.
So, this St George’s Day, let’s recognise our achievements.
Let’s build a greater future.
Let’s celebrate “this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.