King Edward VII – 1902 King’s Speech

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Below is the text of the speech made by King Edward VII in the House of Lords on 16 January 1902.

My Lords and Gentlemen,

Since the close of the last Session of Parliament I have had the happiness to welcome back the Prince and Princess of Wales on their return from their lengthened voyage to various parts of My Empire. They have everywhere been received with demonstrations of the liveliest affection, and I am convinced that their presence has served to rivet more closely the bonds of mutual regard and loyalty by which the vigour of the Empire is maintained.

My relations with other Powers continue to be of a friendly character.

I regret that the war in South Africa has not been yet concluded, though the course of the operations has been favourable to our arms.

The area of the war has been largely reduced, and industries are being resumed in My new Colonies. In spite of the tedious character of the campaign, My soldiers have throughout displayed a cheerfulness in the endurance of the hardships incident to guerilla warfare, and a humanity, even to their own detriment, in the treatment of the enemy, which is deserving of the highest praise.

The necessity of relieving those of My troops who have most felt the strain of the war has afforded Me an opportunity of again availing myself of the loyal and patriotic offers of My Colonies, and further contingents will shortly reach South Africa from the Dominion of Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, and from New Zealand.

On the invitation of the King of the Belgians, an International Conference on Sugar Bounties has recently reassembled at Brussels. I trust that its decision may lead to the abandonment of a system by which the sugar-producing Colonies, and the home manufactures of sugar, have been unfairly weighted in the prosecution of this most important industry.

I have concluded with the President of the United States a Treaty, the provisions of which will facilitate the construction of an interoceanic canal under guarantees that its neutrality will be maintained, and that it will be open to the commerce and shipping of all nations.

I have concluded a Treaty with the President of the United States of Brazil referring to arbitration questions relative to the frontier between My Colony of British Guiana and Brazil. I have much pleasure in stating that the King of Italy has consented to act as Arbitrator.

In My Indian Empire the rainfall has been less abundant than was desired, and the continuance of relief measures, though on a less extensive scale than in the past year, will be necessary in certain parts of the Bombay Presidency and of the adjoining Native States. I anticipate a further improvement in the methods and efficiency of famine relief in the future from the labours of the Commission who have recently reported.

The death of Abdur Rahman, the Ameer of Afghanistan, has been followed by the accession of his son and appointed heir, the Ameer Habibulla, who has expressed his earnest desire to maintain the friendly relations of Afghanistan with my Indian Empire.

Gentlemen of the House of Commons,

The Estimates for the service of the year will be laid before you. They have been framed as economically as a due regard to efficiency renders possible, in the special circumstances of the present exigency.

My Lords and Gentlemen,

Proposals for the co-ordination and improvement of primary and secondary education will be laid before you.

A measure will be introduced for amending the administration of the water supply in the area at present controlled by the London Water Companies.

A Bill for facilitating the sale and purchase of Land in Ireland will be submitted for your consideration.

Measures will be proposed to you for improving the Law of Valuation; for amending the Law relating to the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors and for the Registration of Clubs; for amending the Patent Law; and for sundry reforms in the Law of Lunacy.

I pray that, in the consideration of these important questions, you may have the guidance and blessing of Almighty God.