Queen's Message on the Handover of Hong Kong

Queen's Message on the Handover of Hong Kong  (1997) 
by Queen Elizabeth II

Farewell speech read by the Prince of Wales on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II at the British farewell ceremony for the Hong Kong handover on Monday, 30 June 1997 (23:30 HKT/15:30 GMT)

"Five hours from now the Union Flag will be lowered and the flag of China will fly over Hong Kong. More than a century and a half of British administration will come to an end.

"During that time Hong Kong has grown from a small coastal settlement into one of the leading cities and one of the greatest trading economies in the world.

"There have been times of sacrifice, suffering and courage. As Hong Kong has risen from the ashes of war a most dramatic transformation has taken place. Millions of destitute immigrants have been absorbed and Hong Kong has created one of the most successful societies on earth.

"Britain is both proud and privileged to have been involved with this success story. Proud of the British values and institutions that have been the framework for Hong Kong's success. Proud of the rights and freedoms which Hong Kong people enjoy. Privileged to have been associated with the prodigiously talented and resourceful people of Hong Kong who have built upon that foundation.

"The British flag will be lowered and British administrative responsibility will end. But Britain is not saying goodbye to Hong Kong. More than three and a half million Hong Kong residents are British nationals.

"Thousands of young Hong Kong men and women study in Britain every year. We share language and the English common law. And thousands of Britons, too, have made their homes in Hong Kong. The shared legacy of family and of friendship, trade and investment, culture and history runs strong and deep.

"Britain is part of Hong Kong's history and Hong Kong is part of Britain's history. We are also part of each other's future. We are confident that the ties between us will not only endure but will continue to develop.

"In a shrinking world Hong Kong's role as Europe's gateway to Asia and Britain's role as Asia's gateway to Europe will reinforce the bonds between our two societies.

"For all these reasons my government and I will continue to take the closest interest in Hong Kong and in its development. The British Consulate-General, which will be inaugurated in a few hours time, will be our largest in the world.

"The Sino-British Joint Liaison Group will continue for another two and a half years to discuss matters concerning the implementation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. That Joint Declaration itself remains in force for fifty years. For many years to come, the Hong Kong connection will command our attention.

"Hong Kong now faces its transition to Chinese sovereignty in excellent condition - prosperous, stable and dynamic.

"Unprecedented though this moment in history may be, we have the utmost confidence in the abilities and resilience of the Hong Kong people. Britain learnt long ago that Hong Kong people know best what is good for Hong Kong.

"We have no doubt that Hong Kong people can run Hong Kong, as the Joint Declaration promises, and that faithful implementation of the Joint Declaration is the key to Hong Kong's continued success.

"The eyes of the world are on Hong Kong today. I wish you all a successful transition and a prosperous and peaceful future.