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Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Welcomes the Sudanese Ambassador (by Dr. Khalid AlMubarak)

Date: 01/12/2014

Ceremonies and rituals are not artificial or unimportant gestures.  They disinter and bring forth the essence of underlying currents and roots.

Dressed ceremoniously is a white Turban, Jallabia and robe.  H.E. Ambassador Mohamed Abdallah Ali Eltom and his wife Amani Yousif Mukhtar, in a traditional white Tobe, together with embassy diplomats took two horse-drawn carriages from No. 3 Cleveland Row to the Palace for the Presentation of Credentials to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The London rain, which usually disrupts sport events, held off.  Cameras clicked and the crowd of well-wishers (and tourists) watched.

The monarchy tops the whole uneven system of UK hierarchy. The aristocrats of the Establishment and the common working people in the UK speak two different versions of English.  They dress in two different ways, eat different diets; but are united not by football (which is seen as a working class sport) but by the monarchy.  The prestige of the monarchy was consolidated during the Second World War when the Royal family didn’t leave the country or hideaway; but was visibly part of the national resolve to defend the homeland and defeat Nazism.

More recently that was complemented by the young Prince William marrying the daughter of a commoner whom he met at University.

The monarchy is very special, because membership of the political parties has plummeted and their reputation damaged by scandals that were exaggerated by unscrupulous press reporting.  Some tabloids were never interested in the tangible constituency-based linkage between MPs and voters; but exclusively spotlighted transgressions and unacceptable behavior.  The rise of populism has made fishing (for example) or Oxfam more attractive to young people than political parties.  Some young people never bother to vote.

Standing high above this not very flattering political landscape is the venerable mother figure queen who does not rule but is a symbol of stability, continuity and decency.

Back at the Embassy, H.E. Ambassador Eltom stood flanked by his wife and surrounded by Embassy diplomats and staff, to receive reception invitees.  Behind him were two symbols, a British and a Sudanese flag.

He welcomed diplomats, media people, friends of the Sudan, businessmen/women as well as leading members of the Sudanese community in the UK.

Counsellor Jaafar Somi introduced the Ambassador who made a speech in which he spoke of the message which he conveyed from President Omer Hassan Ahmed Al Bashir to Her Majesty The Queen.  It reminded of historical relationships including Her Majesty’s visit to the Sudan in 1965 and the sincere Sudanese policy of restoring trade and other relations to their golden age when Britain was the Sudan’s main trading partner and main destination for students and tourists.  The Ambassador explained that his remit was to implement an overall promotion of links with the UK.  He proposed a toast to Her Majesty The Queen.

The Vice Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps made a short speech congratulating the Ambassador on the occasion of his presentation of credentials.   Before the end, the Marshal himself turned up for congratulations and a photo opportunity with the Ambassador and embassy staff. The 25 November ’14 was a day of ceremonies and rituals that signified a deep genuine desire for future friendship and cooperation.