FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. on Friday greeted Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom on her 95th birthday, calling her “the singular example in our time, of true commitment to duty, holding back nothing of herself, yet never showing the strain.”
In a virtual greeting arranged by Ambassador to Manila, Daniel Pruce, Locsin said, “On this most auspicious occasion of the Queen’s 95th birthday, we convey our best wishes for her majesty’s continued good health and happiness and the prosperity and well-being of the British people.”
He added, “She has given her all, in trying times with gratuity and grace, with unfailing elegance and charm, in the most regal aspect of rule, and in the most mundane aspect of life . . She is the light of her race to be envied on her account.”
Actually, Queen Elizabeth has two birthdays – her real one – on April 21, as she was born on April 21, 1926; and a second one – the official celebration – on the second Saturday of June, the 12th for this year.
Locsin said everyone looked to Queen Elizabeth “as a font of strength, wisdom, inspiration and sobriety, a quality essential to governance, possessed pre-eminently by women rulers.”
“Call it grace under pressure,” he added, “hence, maybe the words of the hymn, long live our gracious queen.”
According to Manila’s highest envoy, the Filipino people, including the 200,000 Filipinos residing in the United Kingdom, “share in the joy of the royal family and the British People, and members of the Commonwealth on this momentous occasion.”
Filipinos, he noted, have an enduring fascination with British culture and traditions: “high tea, no milk though, for Filipinos are lactose intolerant,” and the charming British accent, “which many tried to copy with mixed result.”
The Harvard-trained lawyer counted the many British institutions and personalities that remain dear to the heart of many Filipinos such as “The Beatles, James Bond, British Royalty, Churchill and the British novels; Smileys People, Downton Abbey, and Agent Running in the Field by John Le Carre. “The list is long,” Locsin said.
A month from now, the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and the United Kingdom, “an important milestone,” will be observed.
“In this 75 years, our two countries have forged strong ties, anchored on our ever-growing cooperation in many fields, and underpinned by our shared values, respect for the rule of law and steadfast adherence to a rules-based international order, commitment to freedom, democracy and inequality.”
He added there is also the shared belief in rough-and-tumble free market principles but softened with labor protection. “This was introduced and also opposed by English aristocracy, The Magna Carta, United Kingdom’s timeless gift to humanity remains the backbone of our democracy.”
Locsin said it is evident that the two countries and peoples are inextricably linked by historical, economic and cultural ties, noting that national hero, Doctor Jose Rizal, “found inspiration in the freedoms and joys in the United Kingdom, as he embarked on his own quest for his country’s freedom.”
He said Rizal’s residence is commemorated in a blue plaque on a house where he lived in the 1880s, in Primrose Hill, the local of (John) le Carré’s, Agent Running in the Field, his final novel before he died in 2020.
The envoy said the Filipinos deeply appreciated UK’s help in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 and their invaluable contributions to secure greater access to much-needed Covid-19 vaccines.
He said highly competent Filipino nurses and other workers in the UK “continue to go above and beyond the call of duty in fighting this pandemic, and their manifold contributions to British society and economy.”
Image courtesy of DFA-ASEAN