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1997 Onwards - Sir John Major’s Comments on the Diamond Jubilee Weekend

Below is the text of Sir John Major’s comments on the Diamond Jubilee Weekend, broadcast live on the afternoon of 5th June 2012 on BBC1, with presenter Huw Edwards.


HUW EDWARDS:


I'm going to introduce my next guest, but we're not going to see him yet. When he starts speaking you'll know exactly who it is.


SIR JOHN MAJOR:


Well Huw it's a delight to be here.


HUW EDWARDS:


Sir John Major, good to see you, thank you very much. We were hearing from David Cameron just a short while ago.


Good to have you with us, first of all, the day, what did you make of today?


SIR JOHN MAJOR:


Quite extraordinary, but then again it's been an extraordinary two or three days, the whole country has been in the middle of a great party and people have come out in a way that I think very few people  actually imagined. I've been around a very long time, I don't think I've seen anything quite like this before.


HUW EDWARDS:


Why has it happened?


SIR JOHN MAJOR:


I think it's a culmination of things. We live in a pretty cynical world sadly these days, and I think people have seen someone who has for 60 years has been the best example of selfless service that I think you can possibly imagine. And in some fashion that has now communicated itself to people and this opportunity has been a great opportunity for people to show what they think of the Monarchy and what they think of this particular Monarch.


HUW EDWARDS:


This is an amazing scene isn't it?


SIR JOHN MAJOR:


It certainly is.


I can't imagine hardly anyone else in the world who could draw crowds like this, here, we're just looking up The Mall, but I've just driven from South London, it's the same along much of the route, huge numbers of people just crowding in the streets holding flags, from the very elderly to little children barely able to toddle. It's a very memorable sight.


HUW EDWARDS:


Lots of people Sir John today talking about 2002, and indeed, thinking back to 1977. What were you doing back in 1977 for the Silver Jubilee, do you remember?


SIR JOHN MAJOR:


I do remember, I was standing in the streets, like everybody else. I remember it very well indeed. Indeed, I remember the Coronation, which was another a great celebration of the time, it lifted the gloom of the post-war years in a truly remarkable fashion.


HUW EDWARDS:


You have a particular interest over and above the usual interest in today's events because you are Chairman of the  Diamond Jubilee Trust. What does that involve?


SIR JOHN MAJOR:


The trust has been set up at the request of all the Commonwealth Prime Ministers and Heads of Governments, all 54 countries, and they've set up the trust to raise money to set up legacy projects to honour the Queen's long reign.


The Queen has said 'please don't make presentations to me', if you wish to make a tribute, then donate your tribute to the Diamond Jubilee Trust, and we're going to raise as much money as we can in this country and right across every country of the Commonwealth. From Governments, local Governments, individuals, people can donate via our web-site, and when we've raised as much as we possibly can in one year only, we're then going to utilise it in a relatively small number of big projects to help people  in need right across the Commonwealth.


HUW EDWARDS:


How will you decide how to spend that money?


SIR JOHN MAJOR:


It will be an objective decision. But the sort of thing we have in mind,  not final decisions, but the sort of thing we have in mind, why not Queen Elizabeth scholarships for the disabled? There are scholarship schemes all around the world, but I know of no scholarship scheme for the disabled. That would be a wonderful, permanent tribute.


We're looking at how we can restore sight to many people who are blind, they have cataracts, they have river blindness, their sight can be restored.


We're looking at schemes in cities, where people are short of nutrition and good food, to set up urban gardens, even in tower blocks and flats you can set up urban gardens to grow food, and that's the sort of project we'll be looking at, and we'll be working with really great charities, like The Eden Project, Sightsavers, International Development Through Sport. We thought we could use sport, particularly for the young. The concept of teams rather than gangs, all across the Commonwealth that's necessary.


So it's a huge range of ideas, first we have to raise the money, and once we have the money, as much as we can get and I set no target, as much as we can get, then we can disperse it on schemes in honour of the Queen, that will be badged as it were, to show that it's in honour of the Queen and that will make a real difference to the lives of people who have much less than most of us.


HUW EDWARDS:


Sir John, as ever, great to talk to you. Enjoy the rest of the day.


SIR JOHN MAJOR:


I'm sure I will, thank you.