by Haile Selassie, translated by Haile Selassie I Press
It gives Us the greatest pleasure to welcome, on Our own behalf and on behalf of the entire Ethiopian people, Your Majesty and Prince Philip who are with Us in Ethiopia as Our honoured guests. We have long and eagerly looked forward to your coming, and We greet you this evening with respect and affection.
In coming to Ethiopia, Your Majesty, You have reaffirmed the friendship and depth of feeling which have for so long existed between Our two nations ‘and their peoples and which serve as an indissoluble bond between us. You have, as well, contributed fresh evidence of the universality of man and of the fundamental and deep-seated ties which unite all people, whatever their race, cultural orientation or economic and social background, who share common principles and ideals and who strive for the attainment of man’s most cherished goals. The Commonwealth of which Your Majesty is the Head stands today as symbol of this universality and provides, in its own way, encouragement for those of us who seek, on this African continent, to utilize in Our search for true unity what is best among the common instincts and aspirations shared by all men.
The Ethiopian and British peoples and Governments are old friends. Contacts between us stretch back many years. Our friendship was cemented and rendered indissoluble during the unhappy years in which Ethiopians, abandoned to the aggressor, struggled against overwhelming odds, first, to preserve their nation’s independence, and later, to free it from the despot’s heel. We personally cherish mixed emotions concerning those years. From 1936 to 1941, separated from Our people, exiled in a strange land while We laboured to muster sympathy and support for Ethiopia’s cause, We were received by the British people with a warmth which nourished and strengthened Our will. And when, finally, the just God called the tyrant aggressor to account, soldiers of many lands marching under the British flag, fought side by side with Our patriots for the liberation of the subjugated and the triumph of justice and liberty over tyranny and oppression.
Today, Ethiopia looks to the British as staunch and firm friends in the struggle being waged throughout the world against poverty, ignorance and want.
Throughout the years, Ethiopia has enjoyed and benefited from the interest of British scholars and friends who have sought to know our country well and to convey to the world from which our nation was so long isolated a true sense of the richness of our life and the diversity of our culture. As this knowledge has been diffused, Ethiopia has been helped to emerge proudly to play a fuller role in international affairs. It is upon this knowledge and understanding that we have sought to build the international unity of the spirit which today constitutes the most important force for good in the search for a lasting world peace and a decent way of life for humanity. With the raising of all men to their rightful dignity and honour as individuals, they will be able to regard their fellows, of whatever nation, of whatever race, of whatever religious, linguistic or historical tradition, as equals, without jealousy, without fear, without undue pride. The British people are united with us in this field and we are confident that they will continue to lend their unstinting efforts in the accomplishment of the immense task which, together with other people of good will, they have joined their efforts.
Your Majesty, during Your Reign, which commenced in an African country only a little distance to the South, You have carried forward gloriously the traditions of Your lineage and brought new honour to the Throne which You occupy. Your Majesty personally enjoys today the respect, the admiration and the affection of all peoples to whom Britain serves as the symbol of indomitability in adversity, of courage when confronted by danger, of dignity and resolve when threatened with defeat, and of magnanimity and generosity in victory.
We shall never forget the warm and friendly reception accorded to Us by the British people during Our state visit a decade ago. Similarly, We trust that your stay with us will be pleasant. We hope that you will carry away with you deep and abiding memories of Our nation and its people. We ask all here assembled now to join Us in a toast to the continued friendship between the British and Ethiopian peoples, to the growth in prosperity and well-being of the British nation, to the health, long life and personal happiness of Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.