Elizabeth The Second: A tireless queen

You will no doubt see her in the next few days, many of you on television but some of you, a chosen few, will meet her and may even have an opportunity to talk to her. You will see for yourself what I mean, especially if you ask yourself how many 83-year-olds you know still doing a full-time job so unwaveringly.

Take the last few days, for instance. On Wednesday, many of the hired hands at Buckingham Palace were up before dawn, grooming the horses, pressing the footmen’s uniforms and laying out the Queen’s finery for her Speech to Parliament in which she outlined the Government’s work programme, so to speak, for the next few months.

True, the Speech lasted less than seven minutes, one of the shortest on record. But spare a thought for the Queen who had to make this huge effort, all dressed up in her white gown, with a scarlet velvet train so unwieldy that it is the ceremonial dress equivalent of the bendy-bus (I think you call it articulated) and requires four pageboys to control it.

On this day, she provided the pomp, the ceremony, the voice, not to mention the Imperial State Crown, which is the equivalent of balancing a two-pound bag of sugar on her head. The Speech could not have left Her Majesty happy. It was mostly Labour Party manifesto stuff, as this was the last Queen’s speech before the next general election.

But Her Majesty battled through the Speech stoically, relieved that if it wasn’t sweet, at least it was short. This is the same dedication she will bring to Trinidad and Tobago later this week when she arrives for the CHOGM. But there are still many other duties for her to perform before her visit.

Accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen will visit Bermuda to mark the 400th anniversary of settlement. They will arrive at Wade International airport on Tuesday and will receive a ceremonial welcome in Kings’ Square, St George, before moving to the Town Hall to sign the visitor’s book.

In the event of wet weather, the Queen and Prince Philip, now 88, will visit the Heritage Centre where they will meet local school children. In the afternoon, they will attend a reception at Government House, before having a private dinner in the evening.

On Wednesday, they will leave the Cabinet Office in Hamilton, the capital, in an open landau and travel through the streets to the Anglican Cathedral where they will attend a Thanksgiving Service to commemorate the anniversary.

After the Service, they will go by ferry to a West End development area where they will view a children’s performance, depicting Bermuda through the ages, and a fashion parade of historic clothing. The Queen will later open a Mural of Bermuda at the Maritime Museum. In the evening, she and the Duke will attend a State Banquet.

On Thursday, the Queen will plant a tree at Government House. Only then will Her Majesty and His Royal Highness leave for Trinidad and Tobago. On arrival in Trinidad, the Queen will be invited to inspect a Guard of Honour before receiving a Salute.

The Royal couple will then travel to Memorial Park, arriving to a fanfare. Her Majesty will then lay a wreath at the National Memorial. In the evening, the couple will attend a State Banquet at the President’s House where both the Queen and President Richards will speak.

On Friday, the Queen and the Duke will attend the CHOGM’s opening ceremony where the Queen, who is Head of the Commonwealth, will speak again. The Duke will undertake a separate programme in Tobago, while the Queen deals with Commonwealth matters.

In Tobago, the Duke will view a Coral Cay exhibition, a project on reef preservation, and will see a re-enactment of a traditional Tobago wedding. In the evening, the Queen, accompanied by the Duke, will attend the CHOGM dinner at which both Her Majesty and Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma will deliver speeches.

On Saturday, the couple will visit Queen’s Hall in Port-of- Spain where they will have the opportunity to watch a calypso performance. In the afternoon, they will attend a drinks reception with local dignitaries. They will then visit the British High Commission where they will meet guests and sign a visitor’s book.

In the evening, there will be a departure ceremony at Piarco airport before the Queen and Prince Philip leave for the UK where more official duties await them. Not bad going for an 83 and an 88-year-old, wouldn’t you say? I don’t know about you, but I am definitely a fan.

Now, just two more things. First, I trust that most of the CHOGM information has already been made available to the media by whoever in Port-of-Spain is in charge of doing so. If it has, then I think it could still bear repeating in a coherent way in one place. If it hasn’t (and my cynicism tells me all of it hasn’t), then I hope this has cleared up a few things for you.

The second thing is this. In planning for something as big as CHOGM, events and plans are subject to change without much notice. The information I have given here is as I understand it today. But, please, don’t be surprised if some things change.


"Elizabeth The Second: A tireless queen"

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