x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

A jubilant union

Having reigned with such dignity for 60 years, Queen Elizabeth II remains one of the world's most respected and loved heads of state.

As Britain yesterday marked the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, a measure of her enduring popularity has been highlighted in the tributes and praise that have poured in for the 86-year-old monarch. Having reigned with such dignity for 60 years, she remains one of the world's most respected and loved heads of state.

Often that praise is directed at her charitable accomplishments, with good reason. There are more than 600 organisations that benefit from her patronage. Less frequently acknowledged, though arguably more significant, is her leadership as head of the Commonwealth of Nations, which she has chaired since her accession to the throne in 1952.

As territories gained independence from the British Empire, the Queen managed to maintain strong ties and cooperation with the 54 sovereign states that make up the inter-governmental organisation. She also serves as head of state for 16 of those countries.

While the Commonwealth is not officially a political union, it is arguable that under the leadership of Queen Elizabeth it has done more than many international blocs to promote peace, democracy, human rights, individual liberties and free trade within its member states.

Yesterday, three days of official celebrations kicked of in Britain. From Africa to Asia, and North America to Australia, the world will join too.