I returned last week from a London where preparations for the Queen’s Jubilee were in full swing, and was able to detect a little of the excitement building up for the events that had been planned.

The parts that I have managed to see on television show once more just how well the United Kingdom choreographs these occasions: the colour, the pageantry, the fabulous golden coach, the perfect timing of the Guards at the ceremony of the Trooping of the colour.  But the one thing that stood out for me, and caused me to reflect, was the tiny, stooped and fragile figure of the Queen at 96, smiling among her family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace and at the lighting of the beacons at Windsor Castle.  You see, I actually remember the headmistress of my school entering our classroom on 6th February 1952 to announce, with evident emotion, that the King – George VI – had died and proclaim, Long Live the Queen!  And going back further, I also recall listening in class at primary school to her speech when she was 21, promising to serve the country for her entire life.  That she has made good that promise is beyond doubt. I remember her wedding, and her coronation, when with other members of the family we gathered at the home of my brother, the proud possessor of the only television we had between us for an entire day of pomp and festivities honouring a lovely young Queen.

But these memories made me realise that I too am old…and the pageant and the concert brought home to me that I, just like millions more, have lived through both troubling and exciting times in which the whole world has changed beyond belief, Britain included but, and perhaps to a greater extent, here in Spain

. From war to peace, from colonial disbandment to the fall of dictatorships in Europe, the building of the Berlin Wall and its fall, the European Union and the rise of East European democracies. But also, from radio to smart multichannel televisión, from scrawling letters with pen and paper to sending WhatsApps on a telephone, seeing You Tube videos or Wikipedia thanks to the internet or working remotely from home on a lap top, for some at least.  Even the Queen has managed to keep working through the Covid pandemic with what is still challenging for many of us – Zoom calls!  And throughout these past 70 years there has been just one Head of State in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth. Her Majesty  Queen Elizabeth II who has steered her way with consummate diplomacy through good years and, for her as for others, some horrible ones. And so, fellow members and guests, I shall now ask her representative in Las Palmas, our Vice Consul, Jackie Stevenson, to propose a toast.