Wearing her royal diamond tiara and a white gown with national emblems such as the national flower the Chaconia and national bird the Cocrico embroidered on them, Her Majesty singled out star batsman Brian Lara as “one of the finest ever to have played the game”, described the University of the West Indies as “a centre of academic excellence, providing a benchmark for educational institutions throughout the Commonwealth” and singled out Government policies as being “impressive.”
“Mr President, in recent years Trinidad and Tobago has made great strides,” the Queen said delivering a speech at a gala banquet hosted by President George Maxwell Richards at President’s House, St Ann’s. “Your Government’s leadership on regional security has been rightly praised, particularly its pioneering efforts to encourage the sharing of good ideas and techniques in counter narcotics co-operation throughout the Caribbean.”
“My Government remains ready to assist in the security sector and in the reforms of judicial process,” Her Majesty said.
“You have also placed an impressive emphasis on providing the people of Trinidad and Tobago with good quality education and opportunities for further development. Today every citizen has access to tertiary education through the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (GATE) scheme.
The Queen also praised, “the cultural achievements of your authors, painters and photographers” and noted that this country was “the birthplace of calypso music and the steel pan.” In addition to Lara’s achievement in cricket she said, “in athletics you have achieved impressive results in recent Olympic and Commonwealth Games.”
“We look forward to welcoming your teams to London in 2012,” the Queen said.
And while Trinidad and Tobago has suffered setbacks in its tourism industry because of a spate of crime, the Queen noted that, “in tourism, Tobago continues to be a byword in the United Kingdom for Caribbean hospitality.”
“Some 50,000 British tourists visit the island each year; and I hope people of all ages will continue to travel between our two countries and learn about each other, whether working, studying or visiting as tourists,” Her Majesty said, noting that Prince Philip, who has accompanied her on this visit to Trinidad and Tobago, will today tour Tobago.
Her speech was the high point of a gala banquet under white tents on the grounds of President’s House.