*Assures of sustained partnership, commonwealth unity
British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing has described the late Queen Elizabeth II, the sovereign of the United Kingdom, (UK) and Chairman of the Commonwealth as “the best diplomat the United Kingdom ever had who promoted global peace.”
The high commissioner made this known while briefing the media on the death of Her Majesty, at her residence yesterday in Abuja.
She described the late Queen as an amazing woman who lived a life of dedication to duty and service and noted that the absolute strength of the relationship between Nigeria and the UK was because of the Queen and her role as head of the Commonwealth.
“When I did my diplomatic credentials to her to Nigeria, she mentioned her love for Africa, her love for the commonwealth and she mentioned her two visits to Nigeria in 1953 for the first time where she spent 20 days and toured the country and then, of course, the commonwealth meeting in 2003.
“Also King Charles III then Prince of Wales visited Nigeria in November 2018 and met a huge variety of people from the youth of the country to the traditional leaders and I can assure you he follows Nigeria closely and I think he will continue to show interest and affection for Nigeria, she said.”
Laing continued, “She was our sovereign, we respected her, we admire her, she was the best diplomat the United Kingdom had, she promoted Britain in every part of the world and I was very honoured to meet her myself on three occasions and the thing that really struck me was that I was inevitably meeting such an important and incredible person but she is good at putting everybody at ease and I have witnessed her do that in different settings,” she said.
Responding to questions on what to expect from the new king Charles III, the high commissioner explained that Nigeria plays a key role in the African continent by virtue of being the most populated and popular African nation in addition the various leadership roles it has taken on the continent.
“Why Nigeria is important is because Nigeria is Africa. You are the biggest and most important country in Africa and the role Nigeria plays on the world stage with very strong figures. So as we mourn the departure of a great woman, we celebrate her life and we look forward to the future with the King,” she adds.
While appreciating the federal government of Nigeria for standing by her country through its mourning by flying the Nigerian flag at half mast across all its diplomatic missions, she said preparations for her burial are underway as her coffin has been transported through Scotland where she died and is now in Edinburg before being taken to London today, where she will lie in state for viewing by the public before the funeral at Westminster Abbey.