Address by President Nelson Mandela at the banquet in honour of Queen Elizabeth II

11 July 1996

Your Majesty;
Your Royal Highness;
Honoured guests

It is a great joy, as well as an honour, to be able today in our own humble way to return the unbounded hospitality you have bestowed on us. We had long looked forward to paying a State Visit to the United Kingdom. It has, thus far, been all that we anticipated and very much more.

Your Majesty, you and your government have stinted nothing and spared no effort in making us feel welcome and in opening the doors to every point and quarter of British society. We are certain that South Africa will benefit from the opportunities we had. Already in meetings with leaders of industry, commerce and finance; in the discussion with Your Majesty's government and in interaction with ordinary Britons, we have been reinforced in our confidence that South Africa and Britain are indeed forging a partnership for the future.

I should add that I do also sincerely appreciate Your Majesty's gracious tolerance of my own prison-bred daily routines which took me before dawn into the beautiful grounds of Buckingham Palace!

In every way, wherever our delegation has been, we have experienced a warmth which has made us feel at home.

The reception we received has conveyed to us everything that South Africans felt towards Your Majesty when you visited South Africa last year.

Even our skies responded to your presence. When you arrived in Gauteng Province it rained so heavily that we named you Motlalepula (the one who brings rain). That rain heralded the best rainy season we have experienced in more than a decade. Should we experience another drought, we may have to request you to pay us another visit.

Your Majesty;

Your own interest and affection for South Africa and the support of Britain for our re-entry into the world stage have all been evident and are deeply appreciated.

We are at a very exciting time in South African history, and having Britain and its people as friends will help us make a reality of the great possibilities that beckon. We do believe also that such a relationship will be of benefit to the people of Britain.

We have been fortified in our faith that in the Commonwealth of Nations we have a powerful force for co-operation in the promotion of peace, prosperity and equity within and amongst peoples across the globe.

Your Majesty;

I would like to express our sincere appreciation for your hospitality, and for the affirmation of the new relationship between Britain and South Africa. And I extend sincere wishes for the health and prosperity of this great country.

May I therefore invite you all to rise to the toast;

Her Majesty The Queen, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, the Government and People of the United Kingdom.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation