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Toasts of the President and Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom at a Dinner Honoring the Queen in San Francisco, California

March 03, 1983

The President. Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness, ladies and gentlemen:

Your Majesty, I welcome you this evening on behalf of the American people and, in particular, on behalf of the people of my home State of California. We're honored by your presence in our country and in this State.

It's fitting that this evening's banquet should be held in this place and in this city. The de Young Museum is one of America's great cultural landmarks. And thanks to Her Majesty's graciousness, we will soon have Leonardo da Vinci's horse drawings, some 50 of them, from the Royal Library of Windsor Castle that will be touring the United States. From November 1985 through February of '86, they will be on view in the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. And the tour was organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the National Gallery of Art of Washington, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

That particular tour, and this cultural landmark that we're in tonight, reflects the diversity of our people, who've built a unique nation from many cultures on the firm foundations of democracy and law which, in large measure, we inherited from Britain. It represents a dedication we share with our British cousins: the peaceful furtherance of art and science for the enrichment and progress of all mankind.

It's also appropriate to recall that in a special way San Francisco, which has become home to so many different people, represents the culmination of our nations' great wartime alliance. Of course, the local links to Great Britain go back much further. One of the first titled tourists to visit this area, Sir Francis Drake, arrived long before the city did. Not only was there no room at the inn; there was no inn. [Laughter] But its greatest hours came centuries later.

In August of 1941, President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill set down in the Atlantic Charter their hope "to see established a peace which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries and which will afford assurance that all the men in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want."

And almost 4 years later in this city, America, Britain, and 44 other nations formed the United Nations organization as a means of putting those great principles of the Atlantic Charter into practice.

Unhappily, subsequent events have continued to put our values and our ideals to the test. We have seen continued war, terrorism, and human oppression in too many quarters of the globe. We're challenged to restrain and reduce the destructive power of nuclear weapons; yet, we must maintain our strength in the face of the enormous military buildup of our adversaries. And nationally and internationally, we face the challenge of restimulating economic growth and development without rekindling inflation.

All this, we can do. We will find the strength to meet these dangers and face these challenges because it beats within the hearts of free societies and free men. We need only look about us for inspiration. This beautiful city and this great State testify to the power and the vision of free men, inspired by the ideals and dedication to liberty of John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, John Stuart Mill, and Abraham Lincoln.

In the words of a great American and warm friend of Britain, Franklin Roosevelt: "The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith."

And ladies and gentlemen, happily and conscious of the honor that is ours tonight, I ask you to join me in a toast to Her Majesty the Queen.

To the Queen.

The Queen. Mr. President, thank you for the very kind things you have said tonight. It is only 9 months since we had the great pleasure of having you and Mrs. Reagan stay with us at Windsor. Now, we have had the memorable experience of visiting you in your home State of California and of seeing your ranch at Santa Barbara. I knew before we came that we had exported many of our traditions to the United States. But I had not realized before that weather was one of them. [Laughter] But, Mr. President, if the climate has been cool, your welcome and that of the American people have been wonderfully warm. We are very grateful for your charming hospitality and for the generous reception we have had everywhere since our arrival in California last week.

The past few days have been a vivid and sometimes poignant reminder of the human drama and achievement which account for the greatness of America today. We have seen some magnificent technological achievements—the space shuttle, which has begun to turn the adventure of space exploration into the equally adventurous but more tangible reality of scheduled space travel; Silicon Valley, which has brought the world of yesterday's science fiction into today's home, office, and classroom—and into Buckingham Palace, too. [Laughter]

This image of the United States at the forefront of technical invention is one of which you are rightly proud, as we are proud of our continued inventiveness in an era of pressing competition. But the miracle of the space shuttle or of the silicon chip lies not in the wizardry of electronics, but in the genius and shared, dedicated determination of men and women. That is what speaks loudest in California.

I think of the families who struggled against impossible odds, leaving their dead in places whose names still bear witness to their desperation to make their way to the west coast. In today's prosperity, their fortitude is often overlooked. But it is their character and courage which hove permeated each succeeding generation.

I have seen that courage at work for myself this week, as many Californian families have coped valiantly with the hardship brought by the storms and tornado which have hit this State so hard.

Prince Philip and I made a memorable visit to your country in 1976 to share with so many Americans in the celebration of your bicentenary; 1983 marks another bicentenary-the signing of the Treaty of Paris, formally bringing the War of Independence to an end.

Two years before that, British troops had marched to surrender at Yorktown to the tune of "The World Turned Upside Down." So it must have seemed to men at that time. But what would our world, 200 years later, be like if theirs had not been turned upside down?

Since then, the hand of friendship has reached out from your shores and ours at critical periods in our history to ensure not just our own survival but the survival of freedom itself.

In 1939, my father was the first reigning British sovereign to visit America, and he and President Roosevelt talked long and earnestly about the coming crisis. At the end of their visit, Mrs. Roosevelt wrote that "in time of danger," as she put it, "something deeper comes to the surface and the British and we stand firmly together with confidence in our common heritage and ideas."

By far the most important idea which we share is our belief in freedom, as you made clear in your speech at Westminster last year. It is an idea whose power is such that some men will go to as great lengths to suppress it as others will to keep it alive, as our two countries have fought to keep it alive.

We are deeply grateful for the unstinting contribution of the United States to the maintenance of the Western alliance. For our part, no one who knows the British and their history could have any doubt about our steadfastness as an ally or our willingness to stand up in defense of the values which we all hold dear. I say that not to strike a solemn note but to state a simple truth.

We have had a visit which has been spectacular and has fulfilled a long-standing ambition on my part to visit California on the west coast. What better time than when the President is a Californian? [Laughter]

We have enjoyed ourselves and greatly appreciate the warmth of your hospitality. What will remain afterwards is more significant-the cementing of a relationship. From time to time, friendships must be publicly reaffirmed. My visit has given me the opportunity to reaffirm the ideals which we share and the affection that exists between our people—without which the formalities of alliance would be meaningless, but from the certainty of which our two countries continue to draw strength.

Mr. President, I raise my glass to you and to Mrs. Reagan, to the friendship between our two countries, to the people of California, and to the people of the United States.

To the President.

Note: The President spoke at 10:36 p.m. in the Hearst Court of the M. II. de Young Memorial Museum.

Following the dinner, the President and Mrs. Reagan went to the St. Francis Hotel, where they remained overnight.

Ronald Reagan, Toasts of the President and Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom at a Dinner Honoring the Queen in San Francisco, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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