The Power of being Present - A Dedication to Queen Elizabeth II | K2 Corporate Mobility
Adequately summarising the reign of Queen Elizabeth II in just five hundred words is an impossible task. Her 70 years on the throne incorporated so many different elements, had multiple dimensions and myriad facets – which to choose when composing a dedication? After much deliberation, we have chosen to let ourselves be guided by our core service offering: as a global mobility company, our dedication to Queen Elizabeth II focuses on the extensive travels of our late monarch.
During a reign of over seventy years, Queen Elizabeth II visited 117 countries and made almost 300 state visits, making her the most-travelled monarch in Britain’s history. Six months after her coronation in June 1953, the Queen set off on a six-month tour of the Commonwealth. The tour saw her visit thirteen Commonwealth countries including Australia and New Zealand, throughout both of which she travelled so extensively that 75 percent of each country’s population is believed to have seen her.
In October 1957, the Queen travelled to America, a visit which helped to ease the strained relations between Britain and America following the invasion of the Suez Canal zone the previous year. During her visit, the Queen opened the Canadian Parliament in person and addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations on behalf of the Commonwealth: no British monarch had ever done either of these two things before. The Queen’s decision to embrace this responsibility demonstrates her understanding of the power of personal relationships within a political environment.
As her reign progressed, the Queen continued to forge relationships with the leaders and people of countries around the world. In November 1961, she travelled to Ghana and shared a dance with the country’s President, Kwame Nkrumah, helping to strengthen Britain’s relationship with Ghana at a time when the Cold War was dividing loyalties and breeding a dangerous atmosphere of political uncertainty. May 1965 saw the Queen travelling to West Germany, the first royal trip to German territory in over fifty years, and a powerful gesture of goodwill towards the country in the emotive and politically volatile era that followed the Second World War.
In October 1994, the Queen visited Russia. During the visit she worked to develop a warm rapport with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, her efforts helping to bolster the Russian arm of British foreign policy. March 1995 saw the Queen travel to South Africa, just a year after Apartheid had ended. The Foreign Secretary at the time had significant concerns about the visit, but the Queen overruled him, stating that “Mr. Mandela is getting advice from lots of people but no one’s giving him any help. He needs physical assistance and he needs a show.” This quotation shows just how aware the Queen was of the leverage she possessed as an icon, plus how skilled she was at using it to support both individuals and governments.
May 2011 saw the Queen travel to Ireland – this was the first time that a British monarch had set foot in the country since it became independent in 1922. She spoke candidly about Britain’s past involvement in the country, and many believe that no other single event has ever done more to improve Anglo-Irish relations. According to former Prime Minister David Cameron, his own government’s efforts to improve the relationship “were nothing compared to the brave gesture that was the Queen’s breakthrough visit to the Republic in 2011.”
During her extensive travels, Queen Elizabeth II’s vision, intelligence and kindness touched countless communities around the world. She understood how powerful being present can be, how visiting different regions and embracing the culture of each can protect and strengthen the relationship between nations. In other words, she understood the importance of relationships in shaping the political landscape, and she used this understanding to guide the work that she did in the service of her country for over seventy years. She was a truly remarkable individual, leader and Queen. From all of us here at K2, thank you, your Majesty, for your service, your love and your devotion.