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Paul Madden

British Ambassador to Japan

Part of UK in Australia

21st October 2011

Excitement about The Queen and CHOGM


There is much excitement here about the visit by HM The Queen. She comes of course as Queen of Australia, so it’s the Australian government who have made all the arrangements for her programme. I have just come from a reception at the Parliament in Canberra where Her Majesty met Australians from many walks of life. It was a beautiful occasion with moving speeches by PM Julia Gillard, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and Her Majesty and a stunning performance by Aboriginal singer Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu. Yesterday people crowded the shores of Lake Burley Griffin to watch her sail past on her way from the Governor General’s residence to Canberra’s famous Floriade flower show.

It is clear from everyone I talk to, and from the media coverage, that the Queen is held in great respect and affection in Australia. Even among those who support a republic.   Most political leaders here seem to say that the debate is off the table for the present. And, according to the polls, support for the monarchy is at its highest level for many years. When I was on the ABC breakfast news earlier this week, I was asked what I thought about the constitutional monarchy versus republic debate. I was happy to reply that it wasn’t appropriate for the British High Commissioner to have a view on this: it was entirely a matter for Australians.

The Queen travels to Brisbane and Melbourne next week, and then on to Perth for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). I will be heading there too this weekend. Prime Minister David Cameron will be leading a high level UK team including Foreign Secretary William Hague, Commonwealth Minister Lord Howell, and Trade Minister Stephen Green. That shows the importance the UK attaches to the meeting.

The Commonwealth is a remarkable, unique institution. I first came across it some 30 years ago, when I was lucky enough to get a Commonwealth youth exchange scholarship to send some time living with a Chinese family in Hong Kong. That experience rather set the course for my life, as I have spent much of my career in Asia.

The 54 countries gathering in Perth are a remarkably diverse group: rich developed countries like Australian and Britain; some of the poorest countries in Africa; huge countries like India with more than a billion people; and tiny island nations from the Pacific and Caribbean. Their shared history gives them some similarities in their political, legal and education systems. And they share the values of democracy, human rights and good governance, although the Commonwealth could do much more in standing up for those values in order to remain relevant . This meeting in Perth could be a defining moment for the organisation. We very much hope to see the Commonwealth adopt the ambitious recommendations coming out of an Eminent Persons Group report, for a new Charter of Commonwealth values, and the appointment of a Commissioner for Democracy and the Rule of Law.

About Paul Madden

Paul Madden has been the British Ambassador to Japan from January 2017. He was Additional Director for Asia Pacific at the FCO in 2015.He was British High Commissioner to Australia…

Paul Madden has been the British Ambassador to Japan from January 2017.

He was Additional Director for Asia Pacific at the FCO in 2015.He was British High Commissioner to Australia until February 2015. Prior to this he was British High Commissioner in Singapore from 2007-2011.

A career diplomat, he was previously Managing Director at UK Trade and Investment (2004-2006), responsible for co-ordinating and
implementing international trade development strategies to support
companies across a wide range of business sectors.

As Assistant Director of Information at the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office (2003-2004) he was responsible for public diplomacy policy,
including managing the FCO funding of the BBC World Service, the British
Council and the Chevening Scholarships programme. He led the team
responsible for the award-winning UK pavilion at the Aichi Expo in Japan

He was Deputy High Commissioner in Singapore from 2000-2003 and has
also served in Washington (1996-2000) and Tokyo (1988-92). Between
1992-96 he worked on EU enlargement and Environmental issues at the FCO
in London.

Before joining FCO he worked at the Department of Trade and Industry
(1980-87) on a range of industrial sectors and trade policy, including
two years as a minister’s Private Secretary.

He has an MA in Economic Geography from Cambridge University, an MBA
from Durham University, studied Japanese at London University’s School
of Oriental and African Studies, and is a Fellow of the Royal
Geographical Society. His first book, Raffles: Lessons in Business
Leadership, was published in 2003.

Married to Sarah, with three children, he was born in 1959, in Devon.