This year, Britain celebrates the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's reign, her Diamond Jubilee. Today, Viet Nam News carries the following piece written by the British Ambassador to Viet Nam, Antony Stokes:
We cannot see such an occasion happen often. This is only the second time that a British monarch has celebrated 60 years on the throne. The first time was relatively recently, when Queen Victoria reached her Diamond Jubilee in 1897.
Britain is proud of its long and vibrant heritage. The political power of the world's first accountable monarchy has been limited by reforms which began in 1215 with the Magna Carta.
Since then, a system of accountable governance has kept Britain safe from foreign invasions for almost a thousand years. Today the British monarchy has reached a new level of popular support, according to independent opinion polls. The Diamond Jubilee year of 2012 is an opportunity to celebrate all of these.
The celebrations of the Jubilee have also reflected Britain's vibrancy and colour, from the extraordinary river pageant on the Thames over the weekend, to events in Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City including the concerts by the beautiful acapella group Black Voices in both those cities.
Over the last 60 years Britain and the world has seen many changes. Britain has helped to shape today's world through innovation and excellence in many fields: in education, manufacturing, design, culture, creative industries and financial and professional services.
Here in Viet Nam the Strategic Partnership between our two governments is helping us to promote stronger co-operation in all these areas. British Foreign Secretary William Hague's recent visit to Viet Nam showed how far and how fast our friendship has come since he signed the Agreement with then Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem in October 2010.
Our co-operation is not only growing in business (two-way trade has risen over 30 per cent, but in many other areas including culture and education, and there is new work in areas such as green growth, modern media and sustainable design.
We are supporting Viet Nam's fight against corruption and encouraging accountable governance. As Viet Nam develops a greater role on the global stage, there is scope for close co-operation on international issues we all face, such as trade liberalisation, international crime, and climate change. So 2012 is a year of opportunity.
Also this year we are looking forward to the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Torch Relay is already underway, and Miss Viet Nam World Ngo Phuong Lan and international chess grandmaster Le Quang Liem will join the relay in Manchester towards the end of this month.
The relay will finish at Stratford in London, where the opening ceremony will be held on 27 July. Billions of people will be cheering on their athletes at home and millions will visit to experience the Games first-hand, as well as our famous hospitality, energy and cultural and geographical diversity. We wish the Vietnamese athletes good luck in London.
During 2012, we're confident that Britain will show not only why it is one of the most exciting places to live, visit and work in the world, but also why it is such an open, connected, creative and dynamic country, that combines rich history and tradition with modernity and innovation.
Congratulations to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the year of her Diamond Jubilee. — VNS