Gala Dinner Celebrating Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee
Ottawa, Saturday, May 12, 2012
Less than two weeks ago, my wife, Sharon, and I were in Barbados, a beautiful country that has many partnerships with Canada. But there is one overarching tie that unites our nations—Her Majesty The Queen is our common Head of State.
While there, I had the opportunity to share with a like-minded people our joy at celebrating, in 2012, Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee. It was wonderful to talk with the acting governor general there about our shared bond with the Crown.
In fact, wherever I travel—whether to France for the 95th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, to Brazil to discuss international education, to Trinidad and Tobago for a State visit, or to Barbados—I am always cognizant of the fact that I am not only representing Canada, but I am also representing the Crown. I am representing Her Majesty The Queen. And so, I try to hold myself to the high standard she has set over the years.
And what an example she has been!
Her Majesty has seen the last 60 years through a unique lens. Although she was thrust into the limelight at the young age of 25, after the death of her father, King George VI, she embraced her role with admirable dignity and grace. She was immediately seen as a monarch who cared for others.
Today, many charities around the world count on the support of Buckingham Palace, and many others bear the “royal” title, the importance of which is not lost on those in attendance from the Royal Commonwealth Society.
The Queen has even made it a priority during the Diamond Jubilee to celebrate our volunteers and all those who improve their community. To thank those who work unseen to help those in need.
And that is what we hope to do as well. This year, we have been presenting the Diamond Jubilee Medal to deserving Canadians, including volunteers, who have made this country better. They number 60 000. In honouring their dedication to service to others, we honour The Queen’s commitment as well.
For some, Her Majesty is the Crown; she is the only Queen that they have ever known. And for so many, The Queen has been as much a part of this country as is the game of hockey or universal health care.
And that is why it is so important that we mark this year, this milestone in our history. Because it is not only a celebration of Her Majesty, but also a celebration of what it means to be Canadian.
The monarchy is deeply ingrained in our history, and has been since before Confederation. It is one way that we, as a people, differentiate ourselves and one way that brings us closer together with others across the Commonwealth. It is a living link to our ancestors.
The Queen, in her address to British Parliament in honour of the Diamond Jubilee, said:
“My own association with the Commonwealth has taught me that the most important contact between nations is usually contact between its peoples.”
As we honour The Queen on this occasion, let us also remember that it is the people— Canadians, Barbadians, and others from Commonwealth nations—who have taken The Queen’s lead. They have brought us closer together as friends and as allies in so many respects. They have learned from Her Majesty that service to others, working hand-in-hand, is the way to build a better country and a better world.