Queen Elizabeth’s Birthday Celebrated in True British Style

There really was a litany of excuses for a party Friday night, as the British Embassy held an event at the Intercontinental Hotel to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 87th birthday, the 60th anniversary of her coronation to the British throne and the 60th anniversary of the British Embassy in Cambodia.

Addressing the crowd of embassy staff, business people and Phnom Penh socialites, British Ambassador Mark Gooding spoke of the transformation over the past 60 years of the relationship between the U.K. and Cambodia in the areas of trade and development assistance.

“The last 60 years have brought dramatic change in both the U.K and Cambodia and the relationship between [the two countries] has also evolved substantially. Today, the relationship is one of partnership,” Mr. Gooding said, add­ing that annual bilateral trade reached $750 million last year and was continuing to grow, while since 1998, the U.K. has provided Cambodia with $250 million in development assistance.

Ly Thuch, senior minister and chairman of the National Committee for the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, drew attention to the monarchical tradition that both countries share and raised a glass to the health of Queen Elizabeth on behalf of the Cambodian government.

As this was also the 60th anniversary of the first ever screening of a James Bond film, it seemed fitting that many of the distinguished guests had turned out in style to celebrate the enduring monarch’s diamond jubilee birthday like they were auditioning for roles in the next 007 movie.

And though martinis were curiously absent from the drinks menu, plenty of alternatives were provided, including Brunty’s cider, a quintessentially British beverage new to Asia that is now being brewed in Phnom Penh.

Guests at the gala event were also treated to a selection of snacks in the style of traditional British grub—there were little parcels of fish and chips, gammon steak and brown sauce, dessert trifles, and of course, “coronation chicken,” the British dish first prepared for the banquet at Queen Eliz­abeth’s coronation party in 1953.

The Intercontinental sported enough Union-Jack bunting and displays of British kitsch—including an ice sculpture of London Tower Bridge—to ensure a patriotic party was had by all, with technical hitches that darkened the room and stuttered the British national anthem seeming only to lighten the already rather jovial mood.

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