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Speaking at a Westminster reception for veterans to mark the 40th anniversary of the conflict , the Prime Minister said they had been defending the “sovereign right” of the islanders to determine their own destiny.
“Our armed forces achieved what many thought was impossible and liberated the people of the Falkland Islands from occupation by a military junta,” he said.
“We were fighting for the essential principle that the Falkland Islanders, like people everywhere, have a sovereign right to decide their own destiny and choose their own loyalty.
“As we look at the world today, we can see all too obviously how that principle is still in peril and still needs defending.
“There is always some dictator testing whether this country and our friends are really willing to stand up for that principle, which is the essential basis of a peaceful world.
“Forty years ago in the Falklands, our armed forces showed that we would stand up for what was right.”
Earlier, to mark the occasion, the Royal Marines performed the Beating Retreat ceremony in Speaker’s Court in the Palace of Westminster watched by the Princess Royal and Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.
That constant feeling of gratitude from the islanders and understanding of what was achieved is still very much felt
The Princess Royal
The Prime Minister suggested that after the drama of the past days, with a bruising confidence vote by Tory MPs, he might finally find the time to make his first visit to the islands.
“Now things are a bit quieter in Westminster, perhaps I may be able to go before too long. Things seem relatively peaceful,” he said.
Anne said that from her experience, a visit to the islands was always “well worth the effort”.
“That constant feeling of gratitude from the islanders and understanding of what was achieved is still very much felt. It’s always a pleasure to go there,” she said.
She also paid tribute to the veterans of the conflict, saying: “Your courage and skill in battle was thoroughly tested and found to be exemplary. And this nation owes you all a huge debt of gratitude.”