‘Queen Elizabeth Changed Commonwealth’
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says one of the important aspects of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, as Queen of the United Kingdom and Head of the Commonwealth, has been the transformation of the Commonwealth.
According to President Akufo-Addo, “from an initial membership of five countries namely Australia, Canada, New Zealand and then white-ruled South Africa, who were linked by ties of blood and race to Britain, to becoming, now, a 53-member organisation of diverse, once colonised peoples from all the continents of the world, who have gained their freedom and sovereignty, and are today equal members with Britain in the Commonwealth of Nations.”
This dramatic transformation, the President stressed, has been done peacefully and enthusiastically, largely due to the stewardship, guidance and leadership of Queen Elizabeth II.
“Her Majesty has been the influence that has steered the Commonwealth to pay greater attention to our shared values and better governance. She has been the rock that has kept this organization sturdy, and true to its positive beliefs,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo made this known on Thursday, 19 April, 2018, when he delivered a toast to Queen Elizabeth II, at Buckingham Palace, on the occasion of the Queen’s Dinner for Heads of Government of the Commonwealth.
Paying tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, the President recounted the two visits paid to Ghana, in 1961 under the leadership of Ghana’s first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, and in 1998 under President Jerry John Rawlings, by the British Monarch.
“On both occasions, we remember the elegance, style and sheer joy she brought to the performance of her duties. We remember with equal fondness the warmth and graciousness of her welcome when she hosted President John Agyekum Kufuor, during the state visit he paid to Britain in 2007, to commemorate the happy anniversary of Ghana’s Golden Jubilee, i.e. the fiftieth year of Ghana’s independence from British colonial rule,” he added.
With Queen Elizabeth II winding down her duties as Head of the Commonwealth, the President noted that his toast takes on an added significance, as it falls upon him to express the depth of the collective regret of the Commonwealth that she would no longer automatically be present at meeting.
“The Organisation would, undoubtedly, be the poorer for it, as we shall miss her inspiring presence, her calm, her steadiness, and, above all, her great love and belief in the higher purpose of this Commonwealth of Nations, and in its capacity to be a force for good in our world,” he said.
He continued, “Over the years, she has extended her customary courtesy, and smoothened the entry into the club for new leaders, making them feel at home in her practiced and direct manner. This being my first CHOGM as President of the Republic of Ghana, I am one of the new entrants into the family, and have become a beneficiary of Her Majesty’s legendary ability to make you feel at ease and forget that you are nervous.”
It was the President’s fervent hope that the deep love Queen Elizabeth shown for the Commonwealth “will continue to light the way for all of us and our successors, as we endeavour to establish firmly in a world, where many traditional assumptions are under serious threat, the values of fairness, decency, freedom and openness, which have been the object of her work. She will always be an icon of the Commonwealth.”