Item 1276 - Speech by President Nelson Mandela at the State Banquet for Queen Elizabeth II

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ZA COM MR-S-1276


Speech by President Nelson Mandela at the State Banquet for Queen Elizabeth II


  • 1995-03-20 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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State Banquet for Queen Elizabeth II

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  • English

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Your Majesty;
Your Royal Highness;
Foreign Secretary and other members of the delegation;
Deputy Presidents;
President of the Senate;
Madame Speaker;
Members of the Cabinet and Diplomatic Corps
Distinguished Guests.

It is indeed an honour for our government, for our nation and for me personally to play host to Her Majesty this evening.

To welcome the Head of the United Kingdom with which our new democracy is developing comprehensive relations is in itself an auspicious occasion. To welcome the Head of the Commonwealth, the membership of which we happily assumed as a democracy only a few months ago, is an exciting moment. But to welcome on our soil and to play host to an avowed friend of our country, at the start of this first official visit of a reigning British Monarch to a democratic South Africa, is indeed a noble occasion for us.

As I watched Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia sailing into the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront this morning, I could not help thinking of the half-century of turbulent history which separates us from the time of your last visit to this

But that is a history whose pain was tempered by the hope and resolution of millions both in our country and abroad to ensure that, in the end, freedom, peace and justice reign. We knew, through the many years of privations, that your Majesty's "home from home", would one day emerge into the sunshine of the world community of democratic nations.

For this, we owe much to the support received from Your Majesty, Her Majesty's Government and the people of the United Kingdom.

South Africa was very pleased to rejoin the Commonwealth last June. Our joy was all the more profound for knowing that the values which the Commonwealth proclaimed were cherished so strongly that racial bigotry could not be sustained. We are eager now to play our part in further cementing this bridge between nations, to promote international understanding, world peace and prosperity.

The Commonwealth combines commitment to the noblest human ideals with practical co-operation in pursuit of a better quality of life. It represents continuity through change, tradition allied with progress, unity in diversity, and movement towards a world ordered according to the will of peoples - black and white, rich and poor, men and women.

As such it is amongst the most important agents in meeting the universal challenge as this century comes to an end, namely the eradication of poverty and the advancement and consolidation of democracy.

Her Majesty's presence here marks the apex of a series of high level visits from the United Kingdom since we achieved democracy. It symbolises the warm friendship between our countries. These visits, by members of the Royal family and representatives of the British

Government and private sector, convey to us the strength of the resolve of both our nations to build the closest bonds of co-operation.

Ours has been a long-standing relationship. History so decreed that that relationship should for many a century be a complex one, with its share of difficulties. But, in the same measure, it is a history that has forged cultural, language and political ties that today stand both our nations in good stead.

We in South Africa are proud to count as part of our rainbow nation, a community that owes its origins to the United Kingdom, a community that is today an equal and full participant in the efforts to reconstruct and develop our country.

Bilateral relations between South Africa and Britain are growing rapidly through trade, sport, science, assistance with the integration of the military and the police, tourism and other contacts. The number of recently signed agreements which consolidate and develop these links, bear witness to these burgeoning relations.

We also appreciate Britain's support in international fora such as the European Union.

As Her Majesty and all the esteemed guests are aware, the Reconstruction and Development Programme is the focal point of the policies of the Government of National Unity. The programme marshals our resources towards one objective, namely transforming our society in order to improve the lives of all South Africans, especially the poor.

We are heartened by the fact that Her Majesty's government has taken our needs to heart, as reflected in generous bilateral aid and the United Kingdom's share of Commonwealth Development Corporation assistance.

I am looking forward to my visit to the United Kingdom next year. Both from the point of view of our developing links and the esteem in which we hold your country and your people, for the critical role you played in helping shape our new dawn, this will indeed be a special and fond occasion for me.

We do know that our tasks in South Africa will not be easy. The malaise of apartheid runs deep in our social fabric. But we know too that, with friends such as Your Majesty and Her Majesty's Government and the Commonwealth of Nations, we shall reach the mountain-tops of our desires.

I wish Your Majesty and His Royal Highness a pleasant stay in our country; and I am confident that, wherever you go, you will feel the warmth that South Africans cherish in their hearts for Your Majesty and the United Kingdom.

My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Please pray be up standing for a toast to Her Majesty the Queen, to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh and to the people of the United Kingdom!

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 25/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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