Queen looks to ‘new partnership with Europe’ as she toasts Dutch royals

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The Queen has spoken publicly about Brexit for the first time, telling the King of the Netherlands that “as we look toward a new partnership with Europe” the values shared by the UK and Holland “are our greatest assets”.

Speaking at a state banquet in honour of King Willem-Alexander and his wife Queen Maxima, the Queen added that as “innovators, traders and internationalists we look with confidence to the future”.

The Queen, who remains impartial in political matters, chose to emphasise the qualities needed by the UK and one of its closet European neighbours going forward as UK politics continued to be deeply divided by the issue of Brexit.

Earlier, in a speech to both Houses of Parliament, King Willem-Alexander urged the UK Government to lift the “shadow of uncertainty” hanging over Dutch nationals living in Britain after Brexit.

And in his address at the Buckingham Palace dinner, with Theresa May seated nearby, the foreign head of state said: “At present, a lot of attention is focused on the ‘technical’ side of Brexit. That’s understandable and necessary.

“But in the midst of all that complexity we should not lose sight of the greater narrative that continues to bind us. The greater narrative of freedom, openness and cooperation. Of growth and a prosperity whose fruits are enjoyed by all.”

Duchess of Cambridge
The Duchess of Cambridge during the state visit (John Stillwell/PA)

The Queen told Holland’s head of state during her speech: “I recall the state visit of your grandmother Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard in 1972, when I spoke of how our nations’ close understanding and relationship would become increasingly important as a new configuration of Europe was emerging.

“As we look toward a new partnership with Europe, it is our shared values and commitment to each other, that are out greatest asset, and demonstrate that even through change, our enduring alliance
remains strong, and as innovators, traders and internationalists we look with confidence to the future.”

In her speech, the Queen praised the close links between the UK and Holland which “greatly contributes to the economic and cultural life of Britain”.

King Willem Alexander state visit to UK
Queen Maxima of the Netherlands wears the Stuart Tiara (Peter Nicholls/PA)

Willem-Alexander reiterated comments made before about regretting the UK’s decision to leave the EU, but he respected the decision of the British people.

He went on to personally praise the Queen, highlighting her now famous appearance in the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, describing her as the “most fearless Bond Girl ever” for her role alongside 007 played by Daniel Craig.

The foreign monarch said: “In recent decades, you have seen your country, Europe and the world change enormously. The world looks to you as a trusted beacon in the midst of upheaval.

“Your ability to keep in touch with the times is striking. You even have an adventurous streak, as you showed six years ago at the opening of the Olympic Games.”

In tribute to the close links between the British and Dutch royal families, Queen Maxima wore the famous tiara, from the Dutch royal collection, that featured the Stuart Diamond.

The large stone was originally bought in late 17th century by the British monarch William III, also Netherlands’s Prince of Orange, for his wife Queen Mary II.

It returned to the Dutch monarchy after the pair died and was later incorporated into the tiara which was last worn, with the stone, in 1972 by King Willem-Alexander’s grandmother Queen Juliana when she travelled to the UK for a state visit.

2018 marks the 330th anniversary of the Glorious Revolution, which saw William depose James II to become King alongside his English wife Mary.

Among the royal guests were the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge, senior members of the Cabinet and leading figures from British and Dutch life.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who had met the Dutch king earlier in the day, was represented by shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry as he was believed to be attending a family event.

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