PM Douglas toasts Her Majesty the Queen at Special Diamond Jubilee luncheon
BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS (CUOPM) – St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas Wednesday toasted Her Majesty the Queen at a Special Diamond Jubilee.
Prime Minister Douglas, the most senior leader, raised the Toast at Marlborough House in the presence of Her Majesty and Heads of Government and heads of state from across Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and the Pacific. High Commissioners, former Commonwealth Secretaries-General - Sir Shridath Ramphal and Chief Emeka Anyaoku - and representatives of the Commonwealth’ 54 member countries.
“For six decades, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II has been a constant in a changing world. Her personal dedication and steadfast commitment have been relied on repeatedly to help to steer us successfully through enormous social and political change. And in an era in which the world has seen not only change, but indeed tumult, your works and constancy, Ma'am, have provided the solidity and continuity that has been so important to the Commonwealth, to the United Kingdom's view of itself and, indeed, to the very meaning of United Kingdom in the eyes of the world,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
The St. Kitts and Nevis leader added: “We celebrate the fact that Your Majesty continues to be a wonderful role model, a wise counsel and a source of great strength. You have been a source of stability in times of trouble, a relentless champion for freedom and through your dedicated public service to the people of the United Kingdom, the Realm and the Commonwealth have come to epitomise grace in service; steadfastness in commitment, compassion in leadership, dignity in loyalty and devotion in duty.”
“In a further expression of Her Majesty's commitment and love for the Commonwealth, she has visited all corners of the Commonwealth over the last sixty years and been personally involved in strengthening the links between peoples from across all our varied and diverse member nations. You are Ma'am, the embodiment of the fundamental values we hold dear throughout our great Commonwealth.
Over the last few months and, in the last four days in particular, we have seen Diamond Jubilee celebrations in the United Kingdom and across the Commonwealth. In St. Kitts and Nevis, we have been celebrating our own very special relationship with you with a series of activities which started last November and culminated two days ago. Of course similar activities of commemoration and celebration have also been taking place throughout the Commonwealth,” said Dr. Douglas.
He added that the celebrations, the sheer numbers of people who have taken part across the world, speak to the warm appreciation and great respect that the people of the Commonwealth feel for Her Majesty, their joy at this time of celebration and their gratitude to the Queen.
“We, the Heads of Government and State, High Commissioners gathered here today have been delighted to participate in the official celebrations of Your Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee. And we shall forever remember the outpouring of pride and affection toward you witnessed everywhere this week, from the people of Britain, in celebration of this most special occasion,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
He concluded: “In keeping with the sentiments of the Governments and peoples of the Commonwealth, therefore, and in celebration of this most historic occasion, I ask all assembled here on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee to now join me by raising your goblets and glasses to the continued health, happiness, and well-being of our Queen, Head of our Commonwealth.”
Commonwealth leaders who attended the Diamond Jubilee Luncheon were: The Rt. Hon. David Cameron, British Prime Minister; Philemon Yang, Prime Minister of Cameroon; Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada; Joyce Banda, President of Malawi; Dr. Mohamed Waheed, President of Maldives; Dr. Lawrence Gonzi, Prime Minister of Malta; Dr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister of Mauritius; Hifikepunye Pohamba, President of Namibia; John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand; Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka and Michael Sata, President of Zambia.
In an accolade to the Queen, the Secretary-General said: “Two billion citizens of the Commonwealth are represented here today. This gathering is testimony to the profound sense of gratitude, respect and affection felt towards Your Majesty.
“The Commonwealth remains vibrant as it renews its role. Never before, and surely never again, has so diverse a group of nations, representing a third of the world’s peoples, been joined in free and voluntary association with the same Head as the manifestation of that unity for sixty years.”
Mr. Sharma also gave his warm wishes for the full and speedy recovery of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh and thanked him for his steadfast support to the Queen, and for being a committed, loyal and active supporter of the Commonwealth himself.
John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand, said: “What a wonderful spectacle – a great opportunity for Commonwealth leaders to pay tribute to a most magnificent Queen.”
President Joyce Banda of Malawi described the event as very successful. Speaking of the Queen as Head of the Commonwealth, she said only a person of such extraordinary warmth and unique personality could enjoy the respect and admiration that the Queen had garnered at the helm of the association for so many years.
The Queen wore a floral print silk dress in shades of blue and grey, a blue wool crepe coat and a white hat with blue trim.
Nine-year-old Aduke Bandele, who is of British, Jamaican, Nigerian and Trinidadian heritage, presented Her Majesty with flowers.
Miss Bandele said she thought the Queen’s outfit was lovely and it was an honour to present the gift – something that she would remember for the rest of her life.
Celebrating the unique bond and heritage of the Commonwealth was classical singer Laura Wright, who serenaded the Queen and the gathering of Commonwealth leaders with a specially composed song, ‘Stronger As One.’
Ms Wright said: “Today’s event is a lovely way to round up the Diamond Jubilee celebrations because the Queen feels passionate about the Commonwealth.
“This is the highlight of everything I’ve done over the celebrations because it’s so intimate a gathering. It’s so exciting to have the Queen here and to see her reaction.”
In a tribute to the Queen for her sterling stewardship of the Commonwealth and her steadfast commitment to the association of independent states and their territories, leaders presented Her Majesty with a commemorative plaque.
The circular cast bronze plaque measures five feet in diameter and bears the inscription: 'Offered with profound admiration and abiding appreciation for the manner in which Her Majesty has diligently and faithfully served the Commonwealth and advanced its values of democracy, development and respect for diversity through six decades, as both the Head and heart of the Commonwealth family, evoking deep respect and affection from Commonwealth citizens around the globe.'
The plaque is embedded in the gardens of Marlborough House.