Having turned 90 in 2016, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth is to mark her official birthday this year on 17 June with the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony at Horse Guards Parade in London.
Already in 2017 there have been a number of Royal visits to Italy. Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall were here from 31 March to 5 April, with spectacular press coverage of 30 events over five cities showcasing the depth and breadth of the bilateral relationship. Their Royal Highnesses met President Mattarella, Prime Minister Gentiloni and His Holiness the Pope among others. Our shared sacrifices on the battlefield were recalled when Prince Charles marked the centenary of British involvement in the Italian Front in the First World War. Our strong cultural links were centre stage. Their Royal Highnesses celebrated the centenary of the British Institute in Florence, and also visited the British School at Rome. Their Royal Highnesses also focused on the human face of modern Italy. They were briefed on the challenges faced by migrants in Italy and visited charities working with those affected. Business links were also prominent. A high-profile moment saw The Prince of Wales being granted the keys of the city of Florence. But the element of the visit that resonated significantly with ordinary Italians came when he visited the areas in central Italy hit by the tragic earthquakes last year – spending four hours talking to residents in one location. Overall, the Italy visit demonstrated not only the UK’s enduring deep and special partnership with this country but also the importance to both countries of future collaboration to tackle modern challenges.
Other Royal visits have seen Their Royal Highnesses Prince and Princess Michael of Kent travel to Italy in the early part of 2017. Also recently in early May I had the pleasure of meeting the daughters of The Duke of York, Their Royal Highnesses Princess Beatrice (photo, inset) Princess Eugenie at this year’s Venice Biennale where they were involved with celebrating the UK participation.
In other Royal news, Buckingham Palace announced that His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh is retiring from Royal duties this autumn. Prince Philip, who turns 96 in June and is the longest-serving consort in British history, made the decision himself and the Queen supported him, a spokesman said. “I’m sorry to hear you’re standing down”, one man told him at a Royal lunch. “Well, I can’t stand up much,” the Duke apparently quipped! The Queen however is to continue with her official duties.
As we approach Her Majesty’s official birthday, it is to The Queen that we wish to pay special tribute. To quote the British national anthem, “Long live our noble Queen”.
Tim Flear MVO
British Consul General Milan & Director
Department for International Trade in Italy
British Consulate General in Milan, Italy