Elizabeth II, symbolic journeys
Despite her duty of confidentiality, the symbolic weight of Elizabeth II, Head of State, the first representative and guarantor of the unity of her kingdom, has often been affirmed during her official travels.
- 1964: avoided in Quebec
Elizabeth II’s travels to Canada were repeatedly marked by outbreaks of separatist fever in Quebec. In 1964, for her first visit as Queen of Canada, a crowd “not demonstrative” awaits him in front of the residence of the lieutenant governor, writes Agence France-Presse. “A group of young people, on the curb, seemingly turn their backs”. Demonstrations by separatist groups were severely repressed during the “Saturday of the truncheon”. In 1990, when the country was going through a new constitutional crisis linked to Quebec, the Queen delivered a fiery speech to Parliament, written by herself and her close collaborators, and not by the Canadian government, as tradition dictates. “I hope from the bottom of my heart that Canadians will unite and stick together instead of insisting on differences that can only sow new seeds of division.”she says.
- 1965: at the foot of the Berlin Wall
On May 27, 1965, more than a million Berliners came to cheer on the queen during her six-hour visit to the divided city. “With her presence and with the enthusiasm she aroused, Elizabeth II, despite repeated statements from the other side of the wall, confirmed that West Berlin belongs to the Western family”, writes Agence France-Presse. In front of the wall, the sovereign’s car stops for about three minutes. “Unlike other illustrious guests, Elizabeth II did not leave her seat to get on the platform that allows you to see what is happening in East Berlin. It would have been unworthy of the queen”, describes the reporter. During his speech, “He didn’t shout that I’m a Berliner like John F. Kennedy did in 1962 in the same place. But a queen does not operate by slogans and the density of the crowd on a total distance of 36 kilometers, the warmth of the applause, had nothing to envy to the memorable visit of President Kennedy.the agency continues.
- 1977: in Ulster despite the “troubles”
In 1977 the Queen celebrates 25And anniversary of his coronation and wishes to travel to Northern Ireland, torn apart for eight years by the conflict between Protestant loyalists and Catholic separatists. In the days leading up to his arrival, incendiary devices cause hundreds of thousands of pounds of damage to Belfast. To protect the queen, accompanied by Prince Philip and her two youngest sons, an impressive device is deployed. A missile destroyer accompanies her yacht, the Britannia. More than 32,000 police and military are mobilized for the“monarchical operation”. On 11 August the Queen goes to the University of Coleraine (80km north-west of Belfast). Shortly before her arrival, the IRA claims to have planted a bomb there. Elizabeth II utters a fervent prayer for the restoration of peace, urging Protestants and Catholics to end the “senseless violence”.
- 1991: Mandela, surprise guest
In 1991 Nelson Mandela, fresh out of prison, was a guest of the Commonwealth Summit in Harare (Zimbabwe). Then simple head of the ANC, in a country still in full democratic transition, he does not have the rank to attend the queen’s banquet. He decides to break the protocol and invite him. In the days preceding this highly symbolic gesture, Elizabeth II had already come out of her secrecy, congratulating herself on apartheid “Die in South Africa” In the early 1980s, the Queen had given her discreet support to Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, who was campaigning for economic sanctions against South Africa, while her British counterpart, Margaret Thatcher, was against it.