‘God save the Queen’

Just after 2 pm interested persons began gathering to get a good vantage point to see the woman who was once head of State of Trinidad and Tobago up until 1962 and visited on two previous occasions in 1966 and 1985. Present were a few British nationals who amused themselves waving the Union Jack and singing “God Save the Queen”. At 3.04 pm, the arrival of Michael Arneaud, president of the TT Legion of Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League and other veterans evoked applause from the small crowd. Girl Guides, Cubs, Scouts and Cadets lined the walkway towards the memorial for the fallen soldiers.

Shortly after 4 pm the sight of outriders caused all eyes to be focussed on Keate and Frederick Streets, Port-of-Spain.

The black Range Rover transporting the Queen stopped at the entrance of Memorial Park and she exited to applause from the crowd. Her Majesty greeted National Security Minister Martin Joseph, Port-of-Spain Mayor Murchison Brown, Chief of Defence Staff Edmund Dillon, Arneaud and president of the Royal Air Forces Association Justice Philip Ulric Cross. She walked the red carpet toward the memorial accompanied by President George Maxwell Richards. His Royal Highness Prince Philip was accompanied by Dr Jean Ramjohn-Richards. The Queen stood before the memorial as the first gun was fired and two minutes of silence was observed. A second gun was fired, then the last post was sounded. The Queen was invited to lay a large wreath of red artificial flowers. She touched the wreath and it was placed at the base of the memorial by an equerry (personal attendant to the royal family). With the formalities out of the way, the Queen showed expression and smiled as she passed the guides and scouts. She left Memorial Park at 4.13 pm.

Among the attendees were members of the Ethiopian Black African Congress True Church of Divine Salvation (locally known as Bobo Shantis) based at Wharf Trace, Maracas, St Joseph. They hoped to present documents to Her Majesty and a bouquet. They told Newsday the aim of the congress was freedom, redemption and international repatriation “through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights article 15, 1-30”. They were not listed on the programme and eventually gave the bouquet to an official of the Royal Household.

Cpt Neil Alexis Secretary of the Federation of Veterans Association looked forward to seeing the Queen. He said Memorial Park used to be part of the Queen’s Park Savannah and was once called “Little Savannah” until the corporation fenced it and changed it to Memorial Park in 1924. Alexis said many young people are ignorant about the Commonwealth and “will not be able to name ten countries of the Commonwealth.” Alexis recalled May 24 was observed as Empire Day and at the end students got a soft drink and bun. “It’s part of me,” he said.


"‘God save the Queen’"

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