Once again, on this visit, I have been struck by the dynamism and energy of this city, and its vital role as the beating cultural and economic heart, not just of Nigeria, but of the whole region – and, indeed, as one of the major urban and economic centres of the Commonwealth.
It was of particular importance to my wife and to myself that we should conclude our Tour of West Africa by coming here to Nigeria, and to experience, however briefly, something of the extraordinary nature of this immense country.
It is clear to me that the Commonwealth remains as vital today, as it has ever been. It brings us together, building bridges between our governments and our people, and offering the practical means to work together for a better future.
We are both tremendously touched by the warmth of the welcome that we have received here today and can only say how much we admire and appreciate its wonderful celebration of your culture.
I remember quite clearly The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh returning from their own visit to The Gambia in 1961, when I was just thirteen, and telling me how much they had enjoyed their time here. I remember seeing some of the photographs that my Father had somehow managed to take with his miniature Minox camera and thinking how marvellous it would be to visit myself one day.
Our visit is an opportunity to celebrate the bonds of friendship between the United Kingdom and The Gambia, the myriad connections between our people and the many areas in which our two countries co-operate.
As Your Royal Honorary Colonel, I am so very proud to witness the Queen’s Own Yeomanry continuing to uphold its traditions of service and duty whilst meeting the new challenges of an ever-changing world.
We don’t realise enough, I don’t think, how much those creative industries contribute to our whole economy
The idea of pooling the resources of leading academics and industry colleagues to research solutions to some of the most demanding global problems is long overdue, and I am hugely grateful to the ten founding organizations and individuals who have made this possible.
In spite of these persistent and ever-growing risks, it can be all too easy to forget the basic truth that no economy, at the end of the day, can thrive indefinitely without a stable society and a healthy, natural base to sustain it.