Published — Wednesday 19 December 2012
Last update 18 December 2012 9:49 pm
LONDON: The southern portion of British Antarctic Territory has been named Queen Elizabeth Land in honor of the monarch’s 60 years on the throne, London announced yesterday. The announcement was made as Queen Elizabeth II attended her final diamond jubilee event with a visit to the Foreign Office, which handles Britain’s overseas territories.
The previously unnamed area now called Queen Elizabeth Land is around 437,000 square kilometers. It makes up just under a third of the British Antarctic Territory land mass and is an area almost twice the size of Britain.
“As a mark of this country’s gratitude to the Queen for her service, we are naming a part of the British Antarctic Territory in her honor as Queen Elizabeth Land,” Foreign Secretary William Hague said.
“This is a fitting tribute at the end of Her Majesty’s diamond jubilee year. “To be able to recognize the UK’s commitment to Antarctica with a permanent association with Her Majesty is a great honor.” The new name will be used on all British maps and other countries may follow suit.
The Foreign Office said the area’s boundaries were the Ronne and Filchner ice shelves to the north; Coats Land to the northeast; Dronning Maud Land to the east and to the west, a line between the South Pole and the Rutford Ice Stream, east of Constellation Inlet.
“From today, in your honor, it will be forever known as Queen Elizabeth Land,” Hague said.
British Antarctic Territory stretches from a longitude of 20 degrees to 80 degrees west. It was the first official claim in Antarctica, made in 1908. It was designated a separate overseas territory in 1962.
Argentina and Chile made later overlapping claims to the area in the 1940s, though all claims are held in abeyance under the 1959 Antarctic Treaty. Britain operates three research stations there.
It is not the first time that a patch of the icy continent has been named after Queen Elizabeth, now 86.
A sector of Australian Antarctic Territory was named Princess Elizabeth Land upon its discovery in 1931, when her grandfather King George V was on the throne.