King Edward VII – 1903 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 17 February 1903.

My Lords and Gentlemen,

My relations with all the Foreign Powers continue to be friendly.

The blockade of Venezuelan ports, rendered necessary by outrages on the British flag and wrongs inflicted on the persons and property of British subjects by the Venezuelan Government, has led to negotiations for the adjustment of all the matters in dispute. I rejoice that a settlement has now been arrived at which has justified the blockading Powers in bringing all hostile naval operations to an immediate close. Papers on the subject have been laid before you.

Negotiations have taken place for the adjustment of the questions which have arisen with regard to the boundary between My possessions in North America and the territory of Alaska. A treaty providing for the reference of these questions to an Arbitral Tribunal has been signed and ratified.

The condition of the European provinces of Turkey gives cause for serious anxiety. I have used My best efforts to impress upon the Sultan and his Ministers the urgent need for practical and well-considered measures of reform. The Governments of Austria-Hungary and Russia have had under their consideration what reforms it would be desirable that the Powers who were parties to the Treaty of Berlin should recommend to the Sultan for immediate adoption. I trust that the proposals made will prove to be sufficient for the purpose, and that I shall find it possible to give them My hearty support. Papers on the subject will be laid before you.

I regret that the efforts which My Government have been making to arrive at a joint delimitation with the Turkish Government of the boundaries of the tribal country adjoining Aden have hitherto failed to bring about a settlement. Negotiations upon this subject are being urgently pressed forward.

A body of My troops, including a small corps of mounted infantry raised from the inhabitants of the Transvaal and Orange River Colony, has been disembarked at Obbia, in Italian Somaliland, to operate against the Mullah Abdullah, and an advance inland is about to be made. The co-operation of the Italian Government in this undertaking has been most cordial, and I trust that as a result of these operations the tribes of both Protectorates may be secured from further molestation.

The progress of events in South Africa has been satisfactory. The visit of the Secretary of State for the Colonies to that portion of My dominions has already been productive of the happiest results; and the opportunity which it has provided for personal conference with Lord Milner, with the Ministers of the self-governing Colonies, and with the representatives of all interests and opinions, has greatly conduced to the smooth adjustment of many difficult questions, and to the removal of many occasions of misunderstanding.

It has been found necessary to send an expedition to Kano in consequence of the hostile action of the Emir of that place. My troops have successfully occupied his capital, and I trust that it will now become possible to proceed in safety with the delimitation of the boundary between My territory of Northern Nigeria and the adjoining possessions of the French Republic. Papers upon this subject will at once be presented.

My succession to the Imperial Crown of India has been proclaimed and celebrated in an assembly of unexampled splendour at Delhi. I there received from the feudatory Princes and Chiefs, and from all classes of the peoples within My Indian dominions, gratifying marks of their loyalty and devotion to My Throne and family. I am glad to be able to state that this imposing ceremony has coincided, in point of time, with the disappearance of drought and agricultural distress in Western India, and that the prospects both of agriculture and commerce throughout My Indian Empire are more encouraging and satisfactory than they have been for some years past.

Gentlemen of the House of Commons,

The Estimates for the coming year will be laid before you. Although they have been framed with due regard to economy, the needs of the Country and of the Empire make a large expenditure inevitable.

My Lords and Gentlemen,

A Bill will be laid before you which will, I trust, complete the series of measures which have already done much to substitute single ownership for the costly and unsatisfactory conditions still attaching to the Tenure of Agricultural Land over a large portion of Ireland.

Proposals will be submitted to you for completing the scheme of Educational Reform passed last session by extending and adapting it to the Metropolitan area.

Measures will be introduced for the purpose of carrying into effect engagements arising out of the Convention for the Abolition of Bounties on Sugar which has recently been ratified at Brussels; and for guaranteeing a Loan to be raised for the Development of My new Colonies in South Africa.

A Bill will be laid before you for Improving the Administration of the Port and Docks of London, the condition of which is a matter of National concern.

A measure Amending and Consolidating the Licensing Laws in Scotland is greatly desired in that country, and I trust will pass into Law.

Measures will also be proposed to you for Improving the Law of Valuation and Assessment; for Regulating the Employment of Children; for dealing with the Sale of Adulterated Dairy Produce; for Amending the Law relating to Savings Banks; and for Reconstituting the Royal Patriotic Fund Commission.

I pray that the guidance and blessing of Almighty God may direct all your labours.