By Wendy Muperi
HARARE – Britain’s Queen Elizabeth wants to visit Zimbabwe, a trip that will likely strengthen ties with Zimbabwe. The royal tour, possibly the Queen’s last to Zimbabwe given her age, if it materialises, will coincide with nationwide celebrations marking Queen Elizabeth’s 60 years on the throne.
British ambassador Deborah Bronnet said the Queen had told her of her wish to visit Zimbabwe. She was speaking at the handover ceremony of books to Malborough Primary School in Harare yesterday.
“2012 is a special year in the United Kingdom. We have the Olympics, followed by the Paralympics. These two coincides with the celebrations of the Queen’s second diamond jubilee,” said Bronnet.
Relations between Britain and Zimbabwe have been frosty over the years after the imposition of targeted sanctions on President Robert Mugabe’s government over human rights and electoral fraud.
But relations have been thawing, with Britain leading humanitarian and reconstruction efforts in Zimbabwe. Bronnet said the Queen has fond memories of Zimbabwe, especially the country’s hospitality.
The Queen only visited Zimbabwe once in 1991 when the country hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government (Chogm) meeting. However, Zimbabwe is no longer part of the Commonwealth family after Harare was expelled in 2002 over human rights abuses.
But for the Queen, ambassador Bronnet said, pleasant memories of Zimbabwe remain. “From the few times she has been here, she told me how much she loved the country and the people,” she said. Bronnet also commended the two countries for maintaining strong links particularly in the areas of education and health.
The Queen ascended the throne in 1952 on the death of her father King George VI when she was 25 and Winston Churchill was British prime minister. She is generally seen as a hard-working and uncontroversial figurehead who has been able to adapt to the times. Daily News
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