By NELDA MASCHMEYER
A knight — not just any knight, though, but one who is the United Kingdom Ambassador to the U.S. — will visit BYU for the first time and speak to students Wednesday at 1 p.m. in the JSB auditorium as part of the David M. Kennedy Center Lecture Series.
Sir Christopher Meyer, a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, will talk about the changes in Britain and the creation of assemblies in the House of Lords reform in his speech titled, “Britain: The Quiet Revolution.”
Sir Christopher will also discuss Prime Minister Blair’s government policy and talk about the new mayor in London. He will focus on Britain in relation to Europe, which includes the Euro and defense security, said Angus Mackay, vice-consul of the British embassy.
Erlend Peterson, dean of admissions, as well as coordinator of the ambassador visits program, said he is very honored to have the British ambassador come to BYU.
“We invited him two years ago when he said he would work out a visit for January (2000), but then he surprised us by including a stop here as part of a business trip,” Peterson said.
Following his speech, Sir Christopher will return to Salt Lake as part of his 24 hour visit to Utah.
Peterson said Sir Christopher is a highly regarded ambassador in Washington, D.C., who has received many honors in the past.
He said Sir Christopher has been involved in the British Diplomatic Service since 1966. Sir Christopher has worked as Head of the Soviet Section in the East European and Soviet Department.
Peterson said Sir Christopher has a vast list of credentials: He has been a speech-writer, Foreign Office Spokesman and Press Secretary to the Foreign Secretary, and Minister and Deputy Head of Mission. He was also Government Spokesman and Press Secretary to the Prime Minister. Most recently, Sir Christopher was the British Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany.
Bob Bradshaw, a visiting lecturer from Birmingham, England, teaching a British government and politics course in political science, said he thinks the ambassador’s visit is particularly significant because the American political structure has its roots in the British constitution.
He said the American system, founded by the forefathers, had the benefit of learning from the drawbacks of the British parliamentary system.
“Last week’s historical change to the anachronistic House of Lords, resulting in the expulsion of the hereditary peers after eight centuries in the House of Lords, could be said to demonstrate that the British system is now moving more closely to a pattern similar to the elected senate,” he said.
Bradshaw said he will be interested to see what Sir Christopher says about Prime Minister Blair’s policy, because the British government has demonstrated a much stronger affinity with its New Labor philosophy modeled on the U.S. democratic party ideals.
He said the New Labor philosophy shows the sharing of democratic philosophies across the Atlantic. Even from the time of Churchill, with the special relationships struck up with President Roosevelt and Eisenhower, there has always been a common bond between Britain and American governments, Bradshaw said.
Peterson said there is a strong tie between the United Kingdom and BYU, especially because of its highly popular study abroad program. He said he hopes especially that political science, history and international relations majors, as well as people from England and people who went on missions to England, will attend the lecture.