Sir Shridath remembers Queen for ‘unqualified sense of duty’

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) — Former Commonwealth Secretary General Sir Shridath Ramphal has praised Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II for her “unqualified sense of duty” to the new Commonwealth she had inherited as the world continues to mourn her passing at the age of 96 on Thursday.

Sir Shridath, who served in the position for 15 years, said that Queen Elizabeth II was a queen beyond Britain.

“As head of the Commonwealth, in particular, her sense of caring for its unifying principles and her dutiful commitment in advancing their discharge made her a global asset. For that Commonwealth of 54 countries, her leadership rested not in allegiance but affection,” he said.

The Guyanese-born diplomat said he attributes the Commonwealth’s survival over the years of UDI in Rhodesia and apartheid in South Africa greatly to the Queen’s deep caring for the new Commonwealth she had inherited, and her unqualified sense of duty.

“Few remember that it was The Queen who gave Marlborough House — her grandmother’s home — as a Commonwealth Centre. Such was her caring for her new, wider family where this week there will be remembrances of friendly country visits on every continent. The whole world has benefited from Queen Elizabeth’s life being ‘long’, in the context of her vow of service as her reign began,” he added.

The incumbent Commonwealth secretary general, Dame Patricia Scotland, in paying tribute said Queen Elizabeth II “was an extraordinary person who lived an extraordinary life — a constant presence and example for each of us, guiding and serving us all for as long as any of us can remember.

“Throughout her reign, and seven decades of extraordinary change and challenge, Her Majesty was the epitome of duty, stability, wisdom and grace.

“Her Majesty loved the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth loved her. During her reign she travelled more than any monarch in history, visiting every part of our family of nations. Between 1971 and 2018 she missed only one Heads of Government Meeting. Her devotion to duty was only matched by her skill as head of the Commonwealth of Nations, always a generous host and consummate diplomat.”

She said The Queen’s vision for the Commonwealth at the beginning of her reign “has been fulfilled, fuelled by her dedication and commitment. Inspired by her life of duty and service, the responsibility to ensure her vision endures is one we all now share.

“As the sixth secretary general of the Commonwealth, I will always be grateful for her warmth and kindness to me. Our interactions were a delight, and it was wonderful to see her passion and animation whenever discussing anything relating to the Commonwealth. Her long years of interaction and partnership with generations of world leaders and their people, particularly the young, gave her extraordinary insight, which brought ever-more life and meaning to her service.

“I will miss her greatly, the Commonwealth will miss her greatly, and the world will miss her greatly. We will never see her like again.”

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