The much-anticipated annual Queen’s Birthday Party was hosted for the first time by recently designated British Ambassador Asif Ahmad on April 24. The ambassador was accompanied by his lovely wife Zubeda, who flew all the way from London to join the occasion.
The Filipino-speaking envoy put his own spin on the annual event, eschewing his residence in favor of the British School Manila and transforming the school’s gymnasium into an elegant party place worthy of a royal celebration.
Iconic UK tourist attractions such as Big Ben and red telephone booths greeted the guests at the entrance. A Jaguar model decorated with the Union Jack caught the attention of the guests as they made their way to the main area.
Inside the main reception area, guests were treated to a digital exhibit of Her Majesty The Queen’s photographs that span her reign of over 62 years. British pop hits played in the background, courtesy of a string quartet that regaled the crowd with well-loved tunes from the Beatles, Coldplay and even the James Bond movies.
To beat the summer heat, free-flowing Magnum ice cream was served alongside traditional British food such as fish and chips, Scotch eggs and sticky toffee pudding enjoyed by guests, which included U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg and European Union Ambassador Guy Ledoux.
Bagpipers from the British Military Garrison in Brunei accompanied the British Ambassador as he made his way to the stage for the traditional toast. With him were his wife, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Lingling Lacalale, British Embassy Deputy Head of Mission Trevor Lewis and Commodore Clive Walker, who led the British Navy relief operations during typhoon Yolanda.
During his speech, Ambassador Ahmad expressed delight in the growing people-to-people links as evidenced by the 40 percent increase in the number of tourist visas.
“Here in Manila, over the last five months, we held our Great British campaign in Manila. This was our way of showing the Philippines the diverse qualities of our great nation. We brought you theatre, literature, music and fashion. You even had the opportunity to try British food. We promoted the UK as a great attraction for tourists and how our Visa operation is delivering an effective service.”
The ambassador also underscored the deepening links between the UK and the Philippines, saying, “We are here as a friend of the Philippines. We are with you in fair weather and in turbulent times.”
The evening ended on a high note with DJ Ronan Ferguson taking the floor as the guests danced the night away, capping the event’s success for first time host Ambassador Ahmad.