Introduction from Justin Glass, Chairman, European Atlantic Group Trustees
The frontispiece of websites of many Groups carry tributes to her late Majesty and the E-AG chooses to mark the Royal bereavement in an individualised way as befits our tradition of fresh thinking. Below is a bowdlerised version of what a Swiss Republican, a local politician and fellow traveller of the E-AG, writes with no forethought of it receiving wide currency in this country:
HANS WERHONIG writes :
‘….‘Die Königin’ The Queen ! The fact of her death saddens us, even if the concept of a Queen is un-Swiss. This Queen touched everybody, the old, the young, the Right, the Left, Christians, Jews, Muslims, and everybody else. Was she not the Queen of all the world?
Swiss are foremost republicans; Nevertheless, we have always felt connected to the Kingdom of England for over one thousand years. After French revolutionary armies devasted Switzerland and after the fall of Napoleon, England became de facto the protecting power of our nation. Without the support of England in 1848, the Swiss Confederation might never have come into being. England scared away the reactionary monarchs in Europe, it saved our democracy. Famous Englishmen came here, Winston Churchill regularly visited Lage Geneva to painted. Queen Victoria spent a month there in privacy, after her beloved husband Prinz Albert’s death. She wanted to be alone in her grief.
Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth also came in 1980, her only state visit to Switzerland. Looking at films and images from that time, we see a classically elegant young woman earnestly inspecting the Swiss honour guard on the Bundesplatz in Bern. We see her in discussion, (with a smile), with Federal Councillor and President of the Confederation Georges André Chevallaz, a solid and charming man from the Canton of Vaud. We Swiss felt connected to the Queen. Her understated presence made us feel comfortable, we realised that this Queen had a potential to adapt virtuously to our own modest and a bit clumsy presence.
Elizabeth the Second was a Queen bred to reign over a nation and a commonwealth.
British and Swiss history are evolutionary, and never revolutionary. And let us be honest, which two countries have such an unbroken and long happy history as Britain and Switzerland? Our success has something to do with a chameleon like characteristics: We change without tearing down traditions. We adapt slowly at a snail’s pace. It is the secret of evolution.
In 1952 an English lady wrote in a newspaper: “I hope earnestly that the accession to the throne of Elisabeth II will remove the last remnants of prejudice against women, we are facing a new area.” The author’s name was Margaret Thatcher, 27 years later she became Prime Minister of Great Britain….’