August 28, 2007
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Canada and Great Britain share a special bond that stretches back over the centuries.
We are connected by a shared language, by history, and by similar democratic institutions. And of course we are connected through our armed forces.
The esteemed individual we are honouring today is the personification of that link.
For over 30 years, Lady Patricia, the Right Honourable Countess Mountbatten of Burma, served as the Colonel-in-Chief of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.
Through the years, she has earned the respect of all with her steadfast commitment to the soldiers of this storied regiment.
Since her appointment in 1974, Lady Patricia has endeavoured to meet the Patricias in their own element, wherever that might be.
Lady Patricia has visited Canadian Forces bases and detachments in every part of the country. She has gone to Gagetown, Petawawa, Winnipeg, Shilo, Edmonton, Calgary, Chilliwack, Victoria, Whitehorse, Yellowknife, and Ottawa.
Lady Patricia has also participated in field-training exercises held in Wainwright, Suffield and Gagetown, and she has travelled to the high arctic to see soldiers training in Resolute Bay and Cornwallis Island.
As well as meeting members of the regiment throughout Canada, Lady Patricia has also ventured into zones of conflict to encourage soldiers serving on overseas operations, and recognize their invaluable contribution.
Since 1976, she has endured long journeys and difficult conditions to meet with soldiers serving in remote and isolated areas. She has met with members of the regiment in Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, as well as Cyprus and Germany.
It has been recognized that, as a result of these trips, Lady Patricia made a significant contribution to mission success, through her outstanding encouragement and support.
I believe her success as Colonel-in-Chief is due in part to the fact that Lady Patricia is a veteran of the Second World War. After joining the Wrens the Women's Royal Naval Service in 1943, she served as a Signal Rating, eventually being commissioned as Third Officer (Cipher).
In that capacity, Lady Patricia worked at Combined Operations bases in the United Kingdom and in the Supreme Allied Headquarters, South East Asia.
Her service in that conflict gave her an excellent understanding of life in the armed forces, and the challenges faced by soldiers. That is no doubt why Lady Patricia has been unstinting in her support of the Patricias and their families.
She has hosted them at her home and at other private functions, and has worked with groups affiliated with the regiment, like the PPCLI Association, the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, and the Canadian Army Cadet Corps associated with the PPCLI.
The Countess Mountbatten of Burma is a model we can all look up to an example of such timeless values as duty, selflessness and honour. For more than 30 years, she performed the duties of Colonel-in-Chief with the greatest degree of commitment to the soldiers and a deep and abiding interest in their welfare, and that of their families.
She has helped unite serving soldiers, veterans, cadets, their families and the general public, raising awareness of the regiment and underscoring its ongoing contribution to the well-being of Canadians.
For all these reasons, I am very pleased, as Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces, to present the Meritorious Service Cross to Lady Patricia, the Right Honourable Countess Mountbatten of Burma.
I offer the sincere thanks of the people of Canada for your many years of service.