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26 July 2006
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"As I stand before my Lords, I am reminded of the words of the poet," the Queen told Parliament in her Speech From the Throne. "'Ever since this world began/There is nothing sadder than/A one-realm monarch/Looking for the lands/The lands that got away.' This is as true today as it was then."
Since Elizabeth assumed the throne in 1952, the United Kingdom has parted with its territories in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. The Queen, who once insisted that the break-ups were "good for everyone," now attributes the decolonisation process to "youthful willfulness."
"I suppose I was trying to find out who I was," the Queen has told her aides. "I wanted to be a constitutional monarch, not an empress. That led to some tough choices. Malaysia was really wonderful. But I thought I needed someone who wasn't so independent. I wish I hadn't pushed it away."
"She's come down with a bit of nostalgia," Phillip said. "The other day, she asked me if we should call Kenya and see how it was doing. Frankly, I don't think Kenya wants to talk, not after the ugly way they parted."
"Life would have been so very different if we continued together," the Queen said. "Richer, I suppose. But maybe it was best we went our separate ways. I'm glad I got out of that relationship with Southern Rhodesia. It had a lot of problems."
Reaction from the former colonies has been mixed. While Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller has not returned any of the Queen's e-mails, Botswanan President Festus Mogae called her late Tuesday, and the two chatted long into the night. At a press conference Wednesday, Mogae said they were trying to find a good day to do lunch.
- Arlen, Harold "British Decolonisation: Crisis and Challenge 1947-1982 ". A Commonwealth is Born, April 3, 1986 (revision of 1954 edition)
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