I am very proud to be Patron of the Queen’s Green Canopy and it is, I think enormously encouraging how many projects are developing around that particular initiative as a very special way of marking the Platinum Jubilee.
I am enormously touched and flattered to have been asked to follow in my father’s footsteps, all those years of his footsteps, here, at Royal College of Surgeons.
For my part, you can have no idea how pleased I am that, after these recent years of separation, this is not a video meeting. Useful as all the technology may be, it is still a great joy to see you all in person here– and without the mute button to cause a certain amount of confusion!
I treasure the friendships we have built over these past seventy years, and look forward to their deepening in the years ahead. As we build back from the pandemic that has devastated so many lives; as we respond to climate change and biodiversity loss that threatens our very existence; and as we see lives destroyed by the unattenuated aggression of violent forces… such friendships are more important than ever.
In the strength of our unity, we, the women and men of the Commonwealth, stand with victims and survivors, who, despite the temptation to hide away in silence, speak up so that others know they aren’t alone – whether in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Pacific or the Caribbean and Americas. In so doing, we have the opportunity to end gender-based violence and those laws and practices that discriminate against women.
If we can commit to being bold in our ambition – but more importantly in our action – the Commonwealth, as one of the world largest ‘common markets’ has a real opportunity to lead the world in the right direction.
Since 2012, you have more than surpassed your aim to “excite, enthral and entertain about the past” and, in so doing, you have become the largest festival in the world dedicated solely to history. Not bad for an event whose original intention was rather more modest - to raise funds for the local cricket club!
We would be doing future generations the greatest disservice not to respond to the global challenges this war has highlighted. This means investing – now – in systems that enable sustainable food and energy and which protect our natural capital.
I have no doubt that you will share my admiration for today’s remarkable winners and will be as impressed as I am by their stories of success. Even after all these years, I never fail to be moved by the way each and every one of them has overcome the most daunting obstacles. I can not tell you how proud it makes me, of all of them.