Sir Peter Marshall was Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General from 1983 to 1988. He was the President of the Joint Commonwealth Societies’ Council, as well as Chairman of the Royal Commonwealth Society, a former British diplomat and has served as a Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
The Greek orator Pericles famously said:
“The whole earth is the tomb of heroic men and their story is given not only on stone over their clay but abides everywhere without visible symbol woven into the stuff of other men’s lives.”
It is not only heroism which abides everywhere, woven into the stuff of other people’s lives. It is also service and selflessness of every kind, and the dedication which tenaciously sustains them, above all when they involve sacrifice, even the ultimate sacrifice.
Her late Majesty embodied and exemplified those precious qualities to the highest degree. The wonders of modern communication have ensured that this is recognised and valued worldwide, but most especially within the Commonwealth. It is not just for official manifestation only. It should govern how we all treat and deal with our fellow humans everywhere and at every level of society.
Let us call this phenomenon “soft power”, a renewable source of energy, in strong contrast to the wasting asset of “hard power”.
9th September, 2022
The Queen and the Commonwealth – The Royal Family website
Peter Marshall wrote about The Queen’s 70 years of service for the Round Table ahead of her platinum jubilee earlier this year in an article entitled “Devoted to your service” – 70 years of the Queen as Head of the Commonwealth:
“I declare before you all”, Princess Elizabeth said, in that epic broadcast from Cape Town on her twenty-first birthday, nearly seventy-five years ago, “that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service…..” Matchless in itself as was that Act of Dedication, it is what it heralded that loses us not only in wonderment and gratitude, but also in hope and confidence, as together we face an exciting, but exacting, common future.
Some things are easier to recognise than to define. Among them are the personal qualities of which greatness is made. We know without being told that self-discipline is at the heart of it. Likewise we realise that good management of public affairs turns in the main on leadership, grounded in hard work and good will – albeit under posh synonyms such as “expertise” and “commitment”.
Read the full February article “Devoted to your service” – 70 years of the Queen as Head of the Commonwealth
More articles from Peter Marshall:
From the Round Table archives:
Letter from The Queen to the Round Table Journal (Jubilee issue 1960)
The British Monarchy and the Modern Commonwealth (2022)
Long-lived Queen (2015)