I am so pleased if I may say so, to have this brief opportunity to come and see where the Royal Commonwealth Society Library has finally found its home after the battle to save it. And if I may, I just wanted to pay special tribute to Sir Patrick Sheehy, who I know worked so incredibly hard at the time, and it’s through much of his extraordinary devotion to this task that we now have this major and vital resource available to so many students - Thank God!
And as somebody who seems to find myself endlessly trying to save one thing after another, I am very proud indeed to have a small association with this, because it would have been one of the greatest tragedies if it had been sold and dispersed. As you know I rather rationally tried to do the same thing to Dumfries House in Scotland to prevent another break up of a remarkable collection, an intact collection of furniture and everything else, which of course is all very well at the time, but you have to ensure you find a way to pay for it to remain there.
But today, for me, has been enormously rewarding, apart from anything else, discovering that my great grandmother Queen Mary, I am so glad that I remember when I used to go and call on her at Marlborough House surrounded by all her collections and fascinating things. Her extraordinary devotion again to collect and record, means that again we are lucky to have this incredible collection. I like the idea that I inherited one or two things from her, and that is not throwing anything away. You may be pleased to hear that since 1985 I have been taking an artist on all official overseas trips because again you look at all these collections and I think it is so terribly important to keep these traditions going, so I rather hope that little collection of artists’ work over this period may again interest people in the future.
So I do congratulate all those who play such an important part in maintaining this great resource and I am thrilled to be standing up here in what turned out to be a remarkably fortunate extension waiting for something to fill it and nothing could give me greater pleasure than to unveil this plaque.