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British Embassy Marks Coronation With Garden Party

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British Ambassador Paul Fox speaks at the garden party. At the far left behind him is Tibor Navracsics.

Photo by Andras Biro Photography / British Embassy.

An estimated 550 people filled the grounds of the British Ambassador’s Residence on May 11 for a garden party marking the coronation of King Charles III, enjoying the excellent weather alongside food and beverages provided by many of the sponsors.

Plenty of guests from the British community were in attendance, naturally, and Hungarians with links to British brands or interests. Prominent guests included Sándor Csányi, the chairman and CEO of OTP Bank, owner of agricultural and food company Bonafarm Group, and chairman of the Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ). There were also at least two ministers in attendance: Tibor Navracsics, Minister for Regional Development and Utilization of EU funds, and Minister of Finance Mihály Varga.

“It’s hard to believe that it’s just a little less than a year ago that we were here, marking her late Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee. So much has happened in that time,” British Ambassador Paul Fox reflected. A period of “reflection, remembrance, but also a celebration of a life well lived” followed the Queen’s death. “However, the strength of our institutions and traditions ensured a smooth transition” to the pomp and ceremony of the coronation on May 6. 

The ambassador noted that Hungary’s President Katalin Novák had represented Hungary at the coronation, the latest sign of the strength of the relationship between the two countries. That has been strengthened, he said, with the recent launch of the bilateral Chain Bridge Forum.

“This is a forum where we can strengthen existing cooperation but also explore where we differ in a constructive manner based on mutual respect. It is a relationship based on developing our prosperity,” Fox said.

He noted that the trade relationship is worth almost GBP 6 billion (EUR 6.89 bln, HUF 2.5 trillion), and British companies in Hungary employ around 55,000 people. Fox said he wants to work with Hungarian and British companies to develop “this mutually beneficial relationship,” built on strong people-to-people links, not least through education and tourism.

The relationship is also based on ensuring each other’s security, as both are members of NATO, the ambassador said in a prelude to his most forthright remarks. He called Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine “the defining issue of our times.” The war is not a conflict among Slavic people, he said, pointedly taking on a description Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán used in his February State of the Nation speech.

“It is an assault upon another country’s sovereignty, whose very right to exist is being challenged. It is a direct challenge to the international rules-based order. We in the United Kingdom want to see this conflict end as soon as possible. We’re not in some war camp seeking to encourage this conflict. However, we want a peace that is just and, above all, enduring.”

Guests enjoy the sunshine and the refreshments amid the bunting and marquees.

Promoting Diversity

Talking about the coronation of Charles III, Fox said the King wished to serve in the manner of his late mother but had made clear his intention to promote and protect the diversity of what is a very different country from when Elisabeth became Queen in 1952.

The United Kingdom has a Prime Minister who is a Hindu, and both the Mayor of London and the First Minister of Scotland are Muslims, in a country “which sees its diversity as a source of strength, not of weakness, nor division.”

Responding to the speech, Tibor Navracsics said it was “an immense privilege” to speak “in the heart of Budapest as we commemorate a truly historic event in British history.” He paid tribute to the late Queen, “an inspirational figure and a symbol of steadfastness, not only for the British people but for the entire world.”

The Queen’s “tireless devotion to public service and […] fostering international understanding […] have left an indelible mark on our shared history,” Navracsics said.

The minister acknowledged the King’s “dedication to environmental conservation and sustainable development.” Hungary and the United Kingdom have a rich and enduring history, he said. “Throughout the centuries, our nations have forged bonds that have transcended time and distance, rooted in mutual respect, shared values, and common aspirations.”

Now was the time to “reaffirm our commitment to the enduring partnership […] and explore new avenues of collaboration that will benefit all nations and people,” Navracsics added. He expressed the hope that Charles’ reign “be marked by wisdom, compassion, and a steadfast commitment to the well-being of the British people and our shared planet.”

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of May 19, 2023.

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