Brexit hasn’t dampened Romanians’ desire to live in UK, the British ambassador said at a reception to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s official birthday, where to everyone’s relief, the rain stayed away.
Despite differences in climate, cooking, and geography, almost one million Romanians chose to stay in the UK after it left the European Union in 2020, he said.
Britain’s ambassador to Romania, Andrew Noble noted that “In two years, the quality and scale of the UK-Romania relationship has increased greatly.”
„I mentioned briefly the UK’s departure from the EU which I know that many people here regret. But whether you regret or rejoice in BREXIT, the job now is to make the best of the UK’s global relationships,” he said.
„The G7 Summit demonstrated how we are working with global partners to tackle global challenges like Covid, the need to reinforce democracy and increase press freedom” he said.
Post-Brexit, Britain has stepped up efforts to boost trade and defense. It’s also helping non-governmental organizations that tackle scourges such as human trafficking, a major problem in the East European country.
The ambassador mused that even if Romania’s national dish of ‘mici’ (spicy sausages) aren’t part of the British culinary repertoire, it hasn’t deterred Romanians from moving across the continent to the UK. (There is a separate sausage row with the EU, but more on that later.)
Many Romanians moved to Britain in search of better paid jobs and equal opportunities. Romanians work in construction, the hospitality industry, finance and the healthcare system.
Romania’s Economy Minister Claudiu Nasui, who attended the party, said he saw Britain as “an example worth following” for its „free market reforms, free trade and taxes.”
Thursday’s event was the first major reception held since Covid restrictions were relaxed this month after a drop in cases in Romania. On Friday, just 70 new cases were reported.
Queen’s Birthday Party
The Queen’s Birthday Party, traditionally one of the most enjoyable summer soirees in the Romanian capital, had fewer guests than in pre-pandemic years in keeping with restrictions.
But the sense of excitement of dressing up, going out and mingling was palpable. Guests remarked how they “hadn’t put on a suit in more than a year”, while some women wore fascinators or discreet hats.
Green and beige dresses, with pops of red or fuschia pink next to navy, or safe yet stylish black were popular choices for ladies.
The lush but damp grass meant women were advised to leave their stilettos at home. Most complied.
Guests received G7 cloth face masks from the Cornwall Summit that took place last week. Later, they were serenaded by the Romanian Youth Orchestra and String Quartet musicians.
At around 19.40, there was a flypast by Romanian and British Air Forces. The jets streaked across the sky like arrows leaving vapor trails in their wake.
They were so swift that some people were still fumbling for their phones to take photos by which time the planes were already beyond the horizon.
Waiters offered guests glasses of Pimms laden with cucumber, strawberries and mint upon arrival, a sweet, not too alcoholic, and thoroughly British summer cocktail.
As in previous years, the reception was held at the Romanian National Bank Arena.
The grassy oasis in Cotroceni (think Bucharest’s answer to Hampstead) is close to the defense ministry; not far from Nicolae Ceausecsu’s gargantuan palace, and more recently the giant Cathedral of the Salvation of the People.
Amid the buzz, the ambassador paused to remember the recent passing of the Duke of Edinburgh.
“Thank you for joining me and Helen (note: Helen Noble, the ambassador’s wife) today to celebrate the sixty-nine years that the Queen has been on the throne” , he said.
“This is a prodigious reign in which The Queen has dedicated her life to the service of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth” he added. „But 2021 has also been a year of deep sadness for the Queen. A sadness which we all share, at the passing of H.R.H The Duke of Edinburgh.”
He reminded guests of the friendship and family links between Philip and the late Romanian King Michael, who were childhood friends and second cousins. Philip died in April and would have been 100 this month.
Defense Minister Nicolae Ciucă delivered a message on behalf of Liberal Prime Minister Florin Cîţu.
“The Romanian government values the United Kingdom…. as a strategic, strong and reliable partner,” he said.
“Our aim is to modernize and extend bilateral cooperation in different areas _ from political security, defense, economic and cultural links and in education” .
“It’s worth mentioning that the Romanian community in the UK is almost a million and they bring a valuable contribution to developing British society”, he added.
The takeaway seemed to be that Brexit has complicated some aspects of life, but the links, shared interests and most importantly the strategic partnership remain strong.
I could add that British bangers taste nothing like Romanian mici (talking Brexit, there is currently an ongoing row with Brussels over the sale of sausages in Northern Ireland).
But Romanians are resourceful and and I’m sure there is a shop in Harrow or somewhere else that sells all the ingredients.
The evening ended at 9pm when it was still light. In a nod to the stormy weather of late, guests were advised that “in the case of extreme weather, please go home” .
As it was, people didn’t even need to use their umbrellas.