By Fiona Hurrell, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On the night of June 22nd, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and the Ministerial and business delegation attended her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II’s Birthday Celebration held at the Copacabana Palace Hotel in Rio. The event marked the conclusion of Mr. Clegg’s trip to Brazil which saw the party visiting various major cities giving talks on the coming Olympic Games.
Mr. Clegg spoke of his successful and enjoyable visit to Brazil and, in particular, to Rio de Janeiro. He spoke of Queen Elizabeth, saying: “When I told her Majesty I would be here raising a glass to her, she reminisced with great warmth about her time spent in Brazil during 1968.”
During his speech, Mr. Clegg paid tribute to the individuals who had helped with the rescue effort in the aftermath of the flood that wrought havoc in Teresópolis and Região Serrana. An event which the Deputy Prime Minister referred to as “one of the worst natural disasters to hit Brazil”.
As his speech drew to a close, Mr. Clegg invited the audience to join him as he raised his glass in a toast to the Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, after which the Brazilian national anthem was performed on stage.
After the speeches, the audience were treated to a performance held by dancers of the Deborah Colker Company featuring teenagers from the (Luta Pela Paz) Fight for Peace NGO organization. Founded in 2000 by English amateur boxer Luke Dowdney, the project aims to help young people living in the city’s Favelas who often fall victim to crime or are forced in to crime, drug trafficking and violence.
One of the performers, seventeen-year-old boxer Jefferson Felix, expressed his profound joy in performing for the British heads of State. “I was really nervous at the start but at the same time very happy to be there and help gain good exposure for the project.”
Fellow member eighteen-year-old Ingrid Asiqueira performed some wrestling moves for the audience and said her highlight of the evening was “feeling the adrenaline kick in as I went out on stage. I thoroughly enjoyed it!”
Consul General Paula Walsh described the event as, “… a great success. Everyone there told us they were moved by the performances – the dancers, the video on the UK and the fashion show by the NGO Luta Pela Paz. One British resident here in Rio, away from the UK for over twenty years, said it was the first time they had really felt homesick in years.”
The Queen’s Birthday Party is a highlight on the UK Diplomatic Mission Calendar. It is held at the embassy in Brasília and by the consulates in Rio, São Paulo and Recife. It is probably the single largest event of the year, if judged by the number of attendees (650 in Brasília, 400 in Rio, 350 in SP.)
Consul General Paula Walsh concludes: “It was great to have this reception to celebrate the Queen’s Birthday at the end of the visit by five UK Ministers to Brazil. It was a real celebration of the UK in Brazil and a showcase of UK culture and UK/Brazil collaboration. The Deputy Prime Minister loved the performances and had a great evening.”