Ladies and Gentlemen, my wife and I are so pleased to have this opportunity to be with you all today on such a lovely day and having heard so much about this Memorial Garden – mostly I have to say from the Bannermans, Julian and Isabel, whom I've known for a long time – I'm so thrilled to have this opportunity as Patron of the British Memorial Garden to come and see it in its half-completed state.
I know my sister was here, I think over two and a half years ago when plans for the Memorial Garden were still very much on the drawing board. But I'm thrilled to see how much progress has taken place since then so when I get home I shall be able to tell my sister.
Now I know I speak for all of you when I congratulate Camilla Hellman for her remarkably inspiring idea, and also, if I may say so, her Board of Directors for pursuing it so energetically and successfully. Thank God there are marvellous people like Camilla Hellman around who can really galvanise so many people into action and also help to raise the necessary funds. I know you have more money still to raise and I hope our visit here today might raise the profile a little bit and remind people about the importance of this wonderful project.
The New York City Administration has been a stalwart partner in all this, and, if I may, as Patron of the Garden I thank their representatives here today most warmly for all their understanding and co-operation.
I was particularly pleased to learn that all of the materials for the Garden are from Britain. So it was particularly nice walking about on Caithness stone and Morayshire stone – where I was at school in Scotland many years ago - and also to discover that running through its centre is a water rill, featuring Welsh slate. And it is marvellous to see the work of Simon Verity – whom I met years ago who is a remarkable sculptor. I'm sure his artistry will may an enormous difference – it has done already to this square outside.
I'm delighted that the overall design of the Garden is in the hands of Julian and Isabel Bannerman whom I think are the Mr and Mrs William Kent of the 21st Century. They have a genius, I think, for originality but always within what I can only call an organic tradition.
Clearly, on its completion next year, the Garden will be a permanent and striking symbol of the close historic ties between New York and the United Kingdom. Those ties go back to the earliest years of this great city. All of you here today embody in some way the many personal links between Britain and the United States, few of them closer than here in New York.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I don't need to remind you that our two countries have, of course, shared tragedy and adversity over the years. We've just been to the site of the World Trade Centre on our way here just now. Both my wife and I were profoundly moved by what we saw there. Not just the scale of the whole outrage, but the deeply distressing individual stories of heroism and of loss. Though over four years have passed since that awful, awful day of September 11th, I know that for the relatives and friends of the victims, whom we were so glad to meet again just now, the sorrow has not lessened. Our hearts go out to you today as they did on that dreadful day. And also to all the families of those courageous members of the New York Fire and Police Departments who sacrificed their lives carrying out their selfless duty.
Sixty-seven British people died at the World Trade Centre – the largest single group of the many foreign nationals who were lost. I think it is so fitting that their lives will be commemorated in this Garden at the heart of Manhattan, where I hope many people will draw comfort and solace. We also remember the victims of the London bombings in July. The Queen and my father, The Duke of Edinburgh, attended a service of remembrance for them today in London, and it seems fitting that we remember them here too. Both our nations have been united by grief and strengthened by the support we have given one another. We were deeply touched in Britain by the solidarity and sympathy shown by so many people in the United States after that traumatic attack.
We are so very grateful to the people and City of New York for their marvellous co-operation over this imaginative project.
As Patron of the Memorial Garden my heartfelt thanks go to all those who have given so generously to it - many of whom we have met this afternoon. We have a little further to go to complete something which, with its unique British character will, I am sure, contribute to the splendid revitalisation that is taking place here is lower Manhattan. My wife and I can't wait to see it in its completed state!