A 200-year Relationship

In celebrating HM The Queen's Diamond Jubilee, we produced a special book focusing on the deep-rooted relationship between Britain & Singapore. Here are a few excerpts from the book highlighitng The Queen, UK & Singapore.

Over the years, the bilateral ties between Britain and Singapore have strengthened, helping both to become economic leaders of today.

From Coronation to Diamond Jubilee, The Queen and Singapore have remained intertwined. Despite changes in government and the economic fortunes of both countries, a mutually respectful relationship has remained steadfast over the years.
Singapore’s association with The Queen began in 1947, when as Princess Elizabeth, she married The Duke of Edinburgh. Like many countries across the globe, Singapore sent the royal couple a wedding present on behalf of the nation. Singapore’s leading newspaper, The Straits Times reported that the contribution was a gold casket, designed and made by the local company,BP de Silva. Eighty-five tahils (just over three kilogrammes) of solid gold were used to make the chest, which took 1,200 hours to craft.
In a letter of thanks, Princess Elizabeth, showing empathy with the country’s fortunes, wrote that she was “particularly delighted that Singapore, which had suffered long years of enemy occupation with a patience and heroism that I for my part shall never forget, should have wanted to express their good wishes in this way.”
The Queen has visited Singapore three times – in 1972, 1989 and 2006. Behind the veil of handshakes and
bouquets, the royal visits are a beacon for 'Britishness'. In an era when the oncesprawling Empire has narrowed, state visits promote Britain and all it has to offer.
Businessmen, diplomats and dignitaries vie for a spot on the royal-visit itinerary to demonstrate their endeavours in industry, commerce and international relations. The bilateral relationship between Britain and Singapore is as strong today as ever. Visiting Singapore in early 2012, Britain’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, William Hague, reinforced the bond in a speech, saying: “Today Britain is looking East as never before. “Britain’s presence in Singapore is considerable, and growing: 32,000 people and at least 700 British based companies. Many of them make significant contributions, whether it be Arup engineering and the iconic Marina Bay Sands hotel, or Rolls-Royce opening their state-of-the art campus.”

A 200-year Relationship

The island city-state is an attractive draw for many British businesses today, the relationship between Britain and Singapore extends far beyond The Queen’s reign.
There are unmistakable signs of British influence everywhere. English is among the country’s four official languages and is taught in schools and Singapore’s legal system, is based on the British structure. Even the administration is founded on British principles – Singapore is a democracy with a parliamentary system of government.
Photo Editorial Credit: Iryna Rasko / Shutterstock.com
Singapore is a vital world trade hub, as it was in Raffles’ day. It is Britain’s largest trading partner in Southeast Asia, in 2011 receiving some 55 per cent of Britain's total exports to the region. In 2011, Britain's exports of goods and services to Singapore totalled $7.6 billion (or S$15.2 billion), up seven per cent on 2010. Goods exported from Britain to Singapore were also up 23 per cent on 2011 in the first four months of 2012.
With significant economic leaps and bounds in both countries, Britain remains a commercial powerhouse. From internationally recognised educational institutions to pioneering industries — it is a leader in many fields. Energy, manufacturing and pharmaceuticals are some of the frontrunners. Singapore is on par as a world leader in several important economic areas too. 
The country’s port is the busiest worldwide, and Singapore is home to the world's fourthleading financial centre (behind London, New York and Hong Kong). It is also recognised internationally as a global pioneer in the fields of sustainability and urban planning solutions.


Singapore in 1965 was an underdeveloped country with a GDP per capita of less than US$520 (S$1590 at that time). Infrastructure was poor, and residents were primarily involved in manufacturing and small-scale trade. In 2012, the GDP per capita stood at US$50,123 (S$62,697), showing the huge strides the economy has made in a relatively short number of years.
Post-independence, the Singapore government aggressively promoted export-oriented industrialisation, which was designed to attract foreign investment. By the eighties, Singapore's international banking and financial services sector had boomed and the nineties welcomed the information age.
In 2000, Singapore steered its focus towards knowledge and innovation-intensive activities. R&D is now a cornerstone of the island country’s economic development, attracting globally recognised companies such as Rolls-Royce and Dyson. In 2005, a science and innovation partnership was signed between Britain and Singapore to promote collaboration in these areas.
Today, British companies continue to choose Singapore year-on-year to pursue opportunities in this growing knowledgebased economy, whilst exploring and benefiting from the evolving nature of a rapidly growing nation. As a result, British business features in every industry sector, be they start-ups, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), or world-renowned multinational corporations.