All of you who work in the field of domestic abuse would be the first to say that you look forward to the day when your service is no longer needed. Today, then, we are marking rather than celebrating your fiftieth anniversary. Let us use it as a milestone to galvanise and inspire us all towards a world where women and children can live in safety, free from fear.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let us not be bystanders to injustice or prejudice. After all, surely our personal values are measured by the things we are prepared to ignore. Let us therefore learn from those who bore witness to the horrors of the Holocaust, and all subsequent genocides, and commit ourselves to keeping their stories alive, so that each generation will be ready to tackle hatred in any of its terrible forms.
I know, from personal experience, just how much effort, hard work and commitment you will have put into your time at Dartmouth. I pray that it will stand you in good stead as you now continue into your professional training and transition to front line operations.
Over the decades, you have tackled homophobia, racism, discrimination, modern slavery, alcohol addiction, domestic violence and coercive control. Thanks to the light that you have shone on these, and other painful subjects, millions of people now have a better understanding of them – and have been equipped with the tools to respond effectively when they encounter such issues in their own lives. For 70 years of raising awareness of others’ hidden struggles, we are deeply grateful.
Their ability to sequester carbon, help prevent flooding and soil erosion whilst providing stock control, shelter, green corridors and an abundance of food and protection for wildlife, make our hedgerows as precious a natural asset to our planet as any other I have experienced. And this is without recording their immense historical or cultural value as living history with some thirty different styles of hedgelaying to be seen across Britain.
In 1882, my great great grandfather, the then Prince of Wales and future King Edward VII, founded the Royal College of Music, with a vision that the College should be the recognised centre and head of the musical world. I need hardly say that I am enormously proud of the unique place the College continues to hold in Britain’s musical and cultural life, and across the globe.
Tonight you write the next chapter of your nation’s story, adding to the treasury of past achievement, collective enterprise and personal courage which already fill its pages.
It is always a daunting task to take over from a former Colonel-in-Chief, but in my case, to step into the boots of my much-missed, late father-in-law, The Duke of Edinburgh, is quite frankly terrifying! I know it was a role that he cherished and of which he was immensely proud and it is one of the greatest honours of my life to have followed him into this illustrious role.
For our society to meet successfully the huge challenges before us, we will need all our talents and all our contributions. That is not simply a good intention - it is the most profound good sense.
You have developed and delivered a vaccine for the world – in a remarkably short time-scale – which will continue to have a positive impact on communities and society for years to come. You have demonstrated, together with your partners, the power of collaboration, of agility and, ultimately, of science itself.