KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Two members of the British Royal Family will visit this country on Feb. 25 as part of celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the accession of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to the throne — the Diamond Jubilee.
Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II while on tour in Kenya on Feb. 6,1952, after her father, King George VI, died suddenly of a heart attack.
This country is among several former British colonies in the regions that still hold the Queen as head of state, with a governor general acting as her representative.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex — Prince Edward and his wife Sophie Rhys-Jones — will visit St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Gibraltar, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Their arrival here on Feb. 25 will signal the official launch of activities here to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, with celebrations culminating in June.
According to former minister of culture Rene Baptiste, who is part of the committee organising the celebrations here, activities will include a lecture on the Modern Commonwealth in March, a flower show and tea party at Government House, and the restoration of the Botanical Gardens, the Jubilee Legacy Project.
The National Trust will hold a stamp exhibition at its headquarters as well as an art and photography exhibition in June.
There will also be the Diamond Jubilee Beacon Event at the Botanical Gardens, the Queen’s Birthday Parade, the Diamond Jubilee Reception at Government House and a special meeting of Parliament.
During her reign, the Queen has seen SVG move through Associate Statehood, Statehood to become an independent nation.
Vincentians in 2009 rejected proposed changes to the nation’s constitution that would have, among other things, removed the Queen as the nation’s head of state.
Other members of the Royal Family will visit the 15 countries where the Queen is head of state, as well as some other Commonwealth countries.
In her message to mark the Diamond Jubilee, the Queen said: “I am writing to thank you for the wonderful support and encouragement that you have given to me and Prince Philip over these years and to tell you how deeply moved we have been to receive so many kind messages about the Diamond Jubilee.
“In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family, friendship and good neighbourliness, examples of which I have been fortunate to see throughout my reign and which my family and I look forward to seeing in many forms as we travel throughout the United Kingdom and the wider Commonwealth.”
The Queen, in saying “I dedicate myself anew to your service”, echoed a pledge she first made at the age of 21, and signals that she has no intention of relinquishing the crown.
The Queen’s great-great grandmother Victoria was the only other British monarch to reign for 60 years.