Queen’s ‘powerful impact’ on end of Cold War revealed as Berlin Wall anniversary looms


QUEEN ELIZABETH II had her own part to play in the historic moments leading up to the end of the Cold War, which is remembered the world over in anniversary celebrations for the fall of the Berlin Wall this weekend. 

The Queen has seen many historic moments over her 66-year reign, spanning the 20th century and going strong into the 21st. This Saturday will mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the momentous event which marked the end of the Cold War. Her Majesty will surely remember the landmark moment the wall came down – and she also had her own historic role to play in the events leading up to the fall.

The Queen had a significant role in bringing about the end of the Cold War when she warmed diplomatic relations between the UK and the Soviet Union. 

2012 Amazon Prime documentary “The Queen’s Diamond Decades” takes a look back at some of the historic moments in Her Majesty’s life and features footage of the momentous occasion in 1989.

Patricia Hodge says: “The Berlin Wall was finally coming down. Years of intense diplomatic activity had played its part, as had the Queen.”

Just seven months before the Berlin Wall started to be dismantled, before it finally fell for good in 1991, she had received Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on a diplomatic visit at Windsor Castle.

The documentary explains: “He’d been warmly received at Windsor and given a royal tour of the castle by the Queen herself.”

The documentary features archive footage of weeping East Germans celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall and taking pickaxes to the concrete wall that had divided the city for 28 years.

Robert Hardman, in his  2018 book “Queen of the World”, comments: “UK-Soviet relations were still well short of the diplomatic intimacy required for a state visit when the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife, Raisa, made a historic 36-hour visit to Britain in 1989. 

“The trip would be a key moment in bringing about the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Iron Curtain.

“That one lunch had achieved a more powerful diplomatic impact than so many of those 110 sumptuous state visits before or since.” 

In addition to welcoming the Soviet premier, another historic moment occurred at Windsor when, during an informal luncheon at the end of the visit, the Queen accepted an invitation from Mr Gorbachev to visit Moscow.

Reporting in 1994, The Independent called the invitation, and the Queen’s acceptance, “hugely symbolic”. 

Journalists Anthony Bevins and Rupert Cornwell wrote: “The announcement of what will be a hugely symbolic event came as Mikhail Gorbachev ended a packed 36-hour visit with an informal lunch with the Queen amid the splendour of Windsor Castle. 

“It confirmed both the close personal and political relationship between himself and Margaret Thatcher, and their different views on nuclear deterrence – above all on the need for NATO to modernise its short-range nuclear missiles in Europe.”

Mrs Thatcher, who was invited to make a return visit to Moscow, said she was very happy at the prospect of a state visit by the Queen.

The Prime Minister said at the time: “There will be tremendous advantage; it will indicate the warmth in the relationship.”

Her Majesty would go on to make history again when she visited Moscow, making her the only British monarch to  ever visit Russia, when she stayed at the Kremlin with Prince Philip in 1994.

Speaking to The Independent’s Andrew Higgins – now the Moscow bureau chief for the New York Times – in 1994, the former Russian Ambassador to Great Britain Victor Popov underlined the regard the Queen was held in during the Cold War years. 

Mr Higgins writes: “Before being sent to London as ambassador in 1980, Mr Popov received special instructions from Andrei Gromyko, the foreign minister.”

Mr Popov said: “He told me it would be great if we could establish close links with the Royal Family. 

“He thought it played a bigger role than it seemed.”

Mr Popov himself released a biography of the House of Windsor in Russia in 1994, although according to Mr Higgins it made only the briefest of mentions of Camilla Parker Bowles. 

The Royal Family is, famously, related to the Romanovs, the last Tsars of Russia. 

Queen Victoria, dubbed the grandmother of Europe because her nine children married into many royal houses, was the grandmother of the last tsarina, Tsarina Alexandra. 

Prince Philip, as well as being related to the Romanovs through Queen Victoria himself, is also the grand-nephew of Alexandra. 


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