The speech of Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth the Second
State visit to Russia: St.Petersburg University, 19 October 1994
Madam Rector, Ladies and Gentlemen
We know for a fact that Peter the Great spent the first few months of 1698 in England, and that he had several conversations with King William III. It would be nice to think also that Peter told William of his plans to build a great city on the banks of the Neva; and that William expressed the hope that he would come here to admire the result.
It has all taken rather longer than that for a British Monarch to visit St.Petersburg. But, if we were not there at the creation, I am all the more delighted to be here now, to help mark a new beginning.
This is a time of great opportunity; but there are tasks ahead to daunt the faint-hearted. We know that it was not the faint-hearted who first created the splendours of St.Petersburg from flat and barren wasteland; and I am confident that the young people who will emerge from the lecture halls of this University to be a new generation of builders will be able to draw on those same qualities of vision, courage and perseverance.
Next year we will remember the end of the Second World War. During that war no city in Europe paid a heavier price for victory than this; I imagine that few of the St.Petersburg families represented in this hall today were left untouched. I have seen already with what marvellous skill and devotion you have restored the monuments destroyed by an invader who could not break this city's spirit. But nothing can repair the human loss. Tomorrow, at the Piskarevskoye Cemetery, President Yeltsin and I will jointly pay our respects to the memory of those who died; and underline the determination of the British and Russian people to work together in partnership, so that your young people and ours can build in peace.
That partnership is not just a matter for governments, though governments can help. After long decades of division in Europe, the continent is open once again; and I am glad that so many people, in your country and in mine, are taking advantage of the new opportunities.
The laboratories of this university are host to research pursued in conjunction with English universities. St.Petersburg is developing a wide programme of exchanges with its twin city, Manchester. Russians in all walks of life, from agriculturists and accountants to doctors and journalists, are taking advantage of training opportunities in the United Kingdom. Such exchanges are supported by the Know How Fund and the British Council, whose representatives are working closely with their Russian colleagues in continuing the transformation of the Russia of today.
I am happy that the Prince of Wales was able to open the British Council's new offices on the Fontanka earlier this year; I hope that for many of you the Council will prove a bridge to Britain, to its language and to its people. Today I am happy to announce a new scholarship scheme - the Queen's Awards, which I hope will bring some of your outstanding young graduates to Britain, to widen their education and their experience in British universities.
Your city, more than perhaps any other, reflects the vision of one man - Peter the Great. He built it to make good Russia's claim to be European by civilisation and by destiny. You are the heirs to that vision. I know that you will keep faith with it, and that St.Petersburg's future will be worthy of her past.
1. Why does the Queen call our time a time of great opportunity?
2. What tasks are we facing at the present time which, in the Queen's opinion, can discourage weak people?
3. It is stressed in the speech that the partnership of Britain and Russia is not just a matter for governments. What other walks of life can it involve?
4. What education opportunities are offered by Britain to specialists / University students?
5. What is the British Council? Can you name some of the functions it performs?
6. What future prospects, according to the speech, does St Petersburg have?