Monday 23 April 2018

Merry Christmas, Ma'am: Large chunk of Antarctic to be named Queen Elizabeth Land

John Hall

IT doesn’t matter how good you’ve been, it’s unlikely Santa will bring any of us a 169,000 square mile tract of land in the Antarctic this year.

But perhaps in future we should address our Christmas list to British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who today announced a large chunk of the British Antarctic Territory is to be named Queen Elizabeth Land.

The gift is in honour of the Queen’s 60 years on the throne, which was celebrated today in the final Diamond Jubilee event of a momentous year.

The Foreign Secretary made the announcement after taking the Queen on a tour of the historic Foreign and Commonwealth Office building in the heart of Whitehall.

Speaking to assembled staff and senior FCO officials, Mr Hague said: “As a mark of this country's gratitude to the Queen for her service, we are naming a part of the British Antarctic Territory in her honour as Queen Elizabeth Land.

”This is a fitting tribute at the end of Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee year, and I am very proud to be able to announce it as she visits the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

“The British Antarctic Territory is a unique and important member of the network of fourteen UK Overseas Territories. To be able to recognise the UK's commitment to Antarctica with a permanent association with Her Majesty is a great honour.”

Mr Hague praised the Queen personally and highlighted how her official overseas visits had played an important part in British diplomacy over the decades.

He also reminded her that he is the 22nd person to hold the post of Foreign Secretary during her reign.

Mr Hague said: “You embody a life of service to our country, and a lifetime of diplomacy.”

”You have made over 260 official visits to 116 different countries, promoting reconciliation, as you did on your visit to West Germany in 1965, and to Japan in 1975; giving encouragement to nations after profound change, such as your visit to Russia in 1994 and to South Africa in 1995; helping to heal the wounds of history and to make peace irreversible, as I saw myself during your truly historic state visit to Ireland last year; and all the time steadfastly uniting the Commonwealth.”

“You have advanced ideals of peace, friendship, freedom and tolerance, and given on each occasion an immeasurable boost to our country's reputation overseas.”

Queen Elizabeth Land makes up one third of the British British Antarctic Territory, and is almost twice the size of the UK. The area was previously unnamed.

Mr Hague also announced that the newly-restored old Home Office library, which is within the FCO building and is used by the department's historians and other staff, would be renamed the Diamond Jubilee Library in the Queen's honour

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