It was a British royal yacht, HMY Britannia that docked at the port with Queen Elizabeth II onboard forty-three years ago on February 26,1979.

Since its foundation in 1971, the United Kingdom has been a trusted friend of the UAE. In recent years, the UAE has aimed to be a source of stability, economic growth and innovation in the region, and the UK has been a valued partner in pursuing this goal.

Today, both countries share a thriving bilateral relationship covering economic, strategic and cultural interests. However, the British monarch Queen Elizabeth II built the foundation for the lifelong friendship, starting with her first state visit in 1979.

First state visit in 1979

A close friend of the UAE, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II has witnessed the entirety of the Emirates' history during her inspiring tenure. The most travelled monarch in the world, Queen Elizabeth has visited the UAE twice – in 1979 and in 2010.

Greeted at the dockside by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founding Father of the UAE, Queen Elizabeth hosted a grand reception on board the royal yacht Britannia. Her visit lasted three days, beginning with a city tour, including the Corniche Hospital and a stop at the British School Al Khubairat.

Older residents of the UAE remember the Emirates enjoying a holiday atmosphere as the streets had lined up to watch the Queen and Sheikh Zayed’s royal convoy pass by. She also visited Al Ain University and was greeted by Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum upon arrival in Dubai.

A royal plaque was unveiled at the Dubai Municipality building, and the Queen and her husband, the late Prince Philip, had attended a service at the Holy Trinity Church in Bur Dubai. The royals also visited the new port in Jebel Ali, which the Queen formally opened. She also inaugurated the old Trade Centre and went on a dhow cruise along the Creek.

Second state visit in 2010

The monarch returned to the UAE in 2010 as part of the UK government’s move to renew relations with the UAE. During the visit, she toured the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and paid her respects at the tomb of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

She attended a ceremony commemorating the commencement of construction of the Zayed National Museum, where, for the first time, the design of the Museum was made public. The British Embassy hosted an event to celebrate the special partnership between the UK and UAE.

At the heart of the event was the re-affirmation of the 1971 Treaty of Friendship between the UK and the UAE. The agreement was signed by the Foreign Ministers of both countries. She also met with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, where they discussed the importance of UAE-UK bilateral relationships.

She also conducted an investiture and presented honours to Sir Maurice Flanagan KBE, former executive vice chairman of Emirates Airline Group and Dr Maha Barakat OBE, head of the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre Abu Dhabi.

UAE’s relations with the British royals today

Queen Elizabeth also paid her condolences following the death of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan on May 13.

“I am saddened to hear of the death of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi,” a statement released by Buckingham Palace had said.

“Your distinguished brother devoted his life to serving the people of the United Arab Emirates and his relationship with its allies and friends,” the statement said.

“He will be long remembered by all who work for regional stability, understanding between nations and between faiths, and for the conservation cause,” the queen wrote.

Furthermore, along with royals from across the world, the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, travelled to the UAE to pay respects to Sheikh Khalifa.

According to the UK embassy in the UAE, "The Duke of Cambridge met with His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, to pay his sincere condolences following the death of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.”

The British royal family also offered their warmest congratulations to Sheikh Mohamed for being elected the President of the UAE.

UAE Ambassador to the UK Mansoor Abulhoul tweeted, “Many congratulations to Her Majesty the Queen as the UK celebrates her Platinum Jubilee. She has been ever-present throughout the long friendship between the UAE and the UK, and for the Emirates, this is a time to appreciate the decades-long bond between our nations.”

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