Tuesday 8 May 2007

The Special Relationship

The Queen spoke at the White House of the "Special Relationship"

I grew up in the knowledge that the very survival of Britain was bound up in that vital wartime alliance forged by Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt. On my first visit to Washington in 1951, your predecessor, President Truman, welcomed me to the White House, and it was his administration which reached out to Europe through the Marshall Plan to help our tired and battered continent lift itself from the ruins of a second world war. In the years that followed, successive administrations here in Washington committed themselves to the defense of Europe, as we learned to live with the awesome responsibilities of the nuclear age.

Mr. President, for someone of my age, surveying the many challenges we face in this new 21st century, that is the inescapable historical context within which we live. My generation can vividly remember the ordeal of the second world war. We experienced the difficulties of those early postwar years. We lived through the uncertainties of the long Cold War period.

For those of us who have witnessed the peace and stability and prosperity enjoyed in the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe over these postwar years, we have every reason to remember that this has been founded on the bedrock of the Atlantic Alliance. All the many and varied elements of our present relationship, be they in the fields of education, business, culture, sports, politics or the law, have continued to flourish, safe in the knowledge of this simple truth.

Today the United States and the United Kingdom, with our partners in Europe and the Commonwealth, face different threats and new problems both at home and abroad. In recent years, sadly, both our nations have suffered grievously at the hands of international terrorism. Further afield, whether in Iraq or Afghanistan, climate change, or the eradication of poverty, the international community is grappling with problems certainly no less complex than those faced by our 20th century forebears.

I have no doubt, however, that together with our friends in Europe and beyond, we can continue to learn from the inspiration and vision of those earlier statesmen in ensuring that we meet these threats and resolve these problems. Divided, all alone, we can be vulnerable. But if the Atlantic unites, not divides us, ours is a partnership always to be reckoned with in the defense of freedom and the spread of prosperity.

That is the lesson of my lifetime. Administrations in your country, and governments in mine, may come and go. But talk we will; listen we have to; disagree from time to time we may; but united we must always remain.

Mr. President, I raise my glass to you and to Mrs. Bush, to the friendship between our two countries, and to the health, freedom, prosperity, and happiness of the people of the United States of America.