Queen Elizabeth II gave a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace, London in honour of the President of the Republic of Singapore, Tony Tan Keng Yam and his wife on their state visit to the United Kingdom (UK).
This is the first time Singapore has been accorded “this most singular honour”, with the State Banquet celebrating the long-standing friendship between the UK and Singapore.
Both the Queen and President Tan made speeches at the start of the Banquet.
The Queen emphasised that both the UK and Singapore share a common heritage and also share a wealth of common interests. As two of the leading financial services centres in the world, both countries are significant investors in each other’s countries with interest also extending to defence and security.
Singapore’s President Tony Tan shared the sentiments in his speech,.”Much has changed over the past 195 years, but the friendship between our two countries has not only endured, but flourished. We are now bound by much more than a shared history and a common language and legal system.”
President Tan also took the opportunity to invite the Queen, or her representative, to visit Singapore during the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s independence next year.
Acclaimed Singapore theatre director and actor Ivan Heng and his husband, Tony Trickett ere also invited to the banquet by Queen Elizabeth II herself.
The invitation was received just 12 days after he and his longtime partner Trickett got married in the Chelsea Old Town Hall in London on 1 August this year.
[junkie-tabs] [junkie-tab title=”Speech by Singapore President, Tony Tan”] The Government and the people of Singapore are honoured that I have been invited by Your Majesty to make the first ever State Visit to the United Kingdom by a Singapore President. This is a historic milestone, which comes just ahead of the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s independence next year in 2015.
Formal diplomatic relations between our two countries were established immediately after Singapore’s unexpected independence in 1965, but our shared history dates much further back to 1819 when Sir Stamford Raffles, whose memorial I visited earlier today in Westminster Abbey, landed on the shores of Singapore to establish a trading port. Raffles would be pleased to know that his modest venture has developed into the second largest port in the world. Much has changed over the past 195 years, but the friendship between our two countries has not only endured, but flourished. We are now bound by much more than a shared history and a common language and legal system.
Strong people-to-people ties underpin our economic, cultural and educational links. Many generations of British people have contributed to Singapore’s development, and their legacies are preserved in Singapore’s cityscape. Singapore has conserved many heritage buildings constructed by the British when Singapore was part of the British Straits Settlements and a Crown Colony. Streets named after British places and personalities have been kept as a reminder of our common history.
Likewise, many Singaporeans have made the UK their second home and contribute actively in various sectors such as finance, healthcare, law, education, research and the creative arts. Some of these Singaporeans are here today.
Singaporeans are welcome and feel at home in the UK. In July, I attended the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, where many athletes from the UK registered spectacular performances, and it was most heart-warming for me to see how Singapore athletes were warmly welcomed by their British hosts, and enduring friendships were forged at the Games.
Your Majesty, Singapore was honoured to have hosted Your Majesty three times in 1972, 1989 and 2006. I was privileged to be the Minister-In-Attendance for Your Majesty’s State Visit in 1989, when I was then-Minister for Education, and I have fond memories of accompanying Your Majesty on your State Visit programme, including visits to Townsville Primary School and the National University of Singapore. The people of Singapore have genuine affection for Your Majesty. Many places in Singapore still bear Your Majesty’s name, and many Singaporeans fondly recall their personal experiences of Your Majesty’s visits. More recently, the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2012 further endeared the Royal Family to a younger generation of Singaporeans. I sincerely hope that contacts between our two countries will continue to grow and flourish. With this in mind, I would like to take this opportunity to invite Your Majesty, or your representative, to visit Singapore during the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s independence next year.
And now, Your Royal Highnesses, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I ask you to rise and join me in a toast to Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh.[/junkie-tab] [junkie-tab title=”Speech by the Queen Elizabeth II “]
Prince Philip and I are delighted to welcome you and your wife to Buckingham Palace this evening.
Our two nations enjoy a rich, shared history dating back to when Sir Stamford Raffles landed in Singapore almost two centuries ago.
How right he was when he said, “it would be difficult to name a place on the face of the earth with brighter prospects”.
His name lives on in Singapore through schools, hospitals and, of course, Raffles hotel, where Prince Philip and I stayed on our State Visit in 2006.
Then, as in our earlier visits, we received a warm welcome from the people of your country, as have other members of my family, most recently my grandson William and his wife.
Your visit to the United Kingdom marks the continued deepening of the relationship between our countries.
Although this is the first State Visit from Singapore, you attended both the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in London in 2012, and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow earlier this year, and your Prime Minister has visited the United Kingdom on many occasions.
As well as a common heritage, our countries share a wealth of common interests.
As two of the leading financial services centres in the world, we are significant investors in each other’s countries.
Our interests also extend to defence and security.
Ships of the Royal Navy have been regular visitors to Singapore and our armed forces have served together on peacekeeping operations around the world.
Underpinning all this is a shared belief in openness and free trade, and a world founded on justice, fairness and international law.
Mr. President, your visit is an opportunity to celebrate the links between our two countries, developed over almost two centuries.
But it is also a chance to highlight common future interests, especially in education, research and innovation, the building of cultural ties and the deepening of the bonds between our people.
The places you will visit during your stay reflect both our common heritage and our future priorities.
For example, it was Kew Gardens that supplied the first rubber seedlings to be cultivated in the Singapore Botanic Gardens in the 1870s.
And today Imperial College is helping to train a new generation of Singaporean doctors, just one of many important partnerships that it and other U.K. universities are building with Singapore.
I am pleased to note that, in honour of your visit, the Royal Commonwealth Society of Singapore is to be re-established; and that the re-founded Society will foster new scholarships to the U.K. for Singaporeans.
And on the international stage, through our respective membership of the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and our collective membership of the Commonwealth, there is the scope to pursue common values and interests, to our mutual benefit.
Mr. President, next year Singapore marks an important milestone in its remarkable history, the 50th anniversary of independence. It is a pleasure to celebrate that upcoming golden anniversary with you this evening.
Looking back at half a century of cooperation, and ahead to new chapters in our story, it is clear that our countries remain firm friends.
I have no doubt that by maintaining longstanding commitments to openness, fairness and enterprise, this friendship will not only be sustained but will flourish and thrive.
Ladies and Gentlemen I ask you to rise and drink a toast to the President and People of Singapore.[/junkie-tab] [/junkie-tabs]