Queen’s UN speech has coalition resonance

By politics.co.uk staff

Britain’s head of state used her speech to the United Nations general assembly in New York to praise the values of cooperation – in an address with particular resonance for the coalition.

Queen Elizabeth last addressed the UN general assembly in 1957, when she looked forward to a time when the institution had “firmly established” the values of “justice and respect”.

Fifty-three years later her focus was on maintaining the UN’s strong record on “the waging of peace” through “clear and convening leadership”.

Now in her sixth decade as Britain’s monarch she is experiencing her first coalition government, which could have drawn conclusions from her comments on cooperation.

“It has perhaps always been the case that the waging of peace is the hardest form of leadership of all,” she said.

“I know of no single formula for success, but over the years I have observed that some attributes of leadership are universal, and are often about finding ways of encouraging people to combine their efforts, their talents, their insights, their enthusiasm and their inspiration, to work together.”

Her Majesty, the head of 16 member states and head of the Commonwealth, suggested those looking back on the UN in 53 years’ time “will doubtless view many of our practices as old-fashioned”.

“But it is my hope that, when judged by future generations, our sincerity, our willingness to take a lead, and our determination to do the right thing, will stand the test of time,” she added.

The Queen’s visit came after a nine-day trip to Canada, which concluded with a farewell banquet hosted by Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper.

“Just as in 1957, when I last visited the UN, I shall be travelling from this Northern Realm as Queen of Canada, a country whose whole-hearted commitment to the United Nations throughout its history is without equal,” she said.

The Queen visited the site of Ground Zero, where the 9/11 terrorist attacks took place, to lay a wreath.

She also met families of the 67 British victims of the 2001 attack.

The Queen concluded to the general assembly: “In my lifetime, the United Nations has moved from being a high-minded aspiration to being a real force for common good. That of itself has been a signal achievement.

“But we are not gathered here to reminisce. In tomorrow’s world, we must all work together as hard as ever if we are truly to be United Nations.”