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State visit to South Africa: Opening of exhibition

Speech by Her Majesty The Queen on the opening of the Nobel Peace Prize exhibition "Strengths and convictions" during a state visit to South Africa, November 2009.

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear Nobel Peace Prize Laureates,

The Nobel Peace Prize has been called the world’s most prestigious award. Four South-Africans have received this prize. It is a pleasure to see them here today as well as their representatives.

In 1960, 1984 and 1993, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a South-African – and in the last case - two South-Africans.

In all three cases, the reason for awarding the peace prize to a South-African was largely the same. The Norwegian Nobel committee intended the prize as a contribution to peaceful development towards full democracy in South-Africa. The prize was a tribute to human rights advocates who actively participated in the struggle against the apartheid regime. “It was a long walk to freedom”.

South-Africa has taught the world what can be done when you have visionary statesmen and courageous people. Your country has shown us what can be done when you have strengths and convictions.

In the relatively new Chief Albert Luthuli Museum in Groutville in Kwazulu-Natal, there is a photograph of Mr. Luthuli, his wife and their child throwing snowballs at each other. It was taken outside the Royal Palace in Oslo in December 1961, when Mr Luthuli was finally allowed to travel to Oslo to receive the prize.

For Mr Luthuli, receiving the Nobel peace prize symbolised “a democratic declaration of solidarity with those who fight to widen the area of liberty”.

You, Bishop Tutu, delivered a strong message in your acceptance speech about the fight against apartheid and for justice and peace. You encouraged us all to strive to be peacemakers: “if we want peace. . . let us work for justice. Let us beat our swords into ploughshares.”

A year before the first free and democratic elections in South Africa, Mr de Klerk and Mr Mandela were both awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. At a momentous time in South-African history, you, Mr de Klerk, told us that a framework for peace needs a frame of mind, and spoke of “the frame of mind which leads people to resolve differences through negotiation, compromise and agreements instead of through compulsion and violence.”

I was delighted when I learned about the Nobel Peace Centre’s initiative to create this exhibition. I was delighted because I believe that the history of South-Africa and these four men holds a powerful message:

Every one of us can make a difference.

In May next year, the exhibition ‘Strengths and Convictions’ will open at the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo at a time when the eyes of the world will be on South-Africa on the occasion of the 2010 Football World Cup.

I would like to congratulate the Nobel Peace Centre and the Zibo National Gallery, and all your cooperation partners, on an impressive and important exhibition.

Let me share with you a final quote before I formally open the exhibition. The words were spoken by Mr Mandela in his acceptance speech in Oslo: “We live with -the hope that as she battles to remake herself, South-Africa will be like a microcosm of the new world that is striving to be born.”

With these words I hereby declare the exhibition “Strengths and Convictions” officially open.


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