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Queen Elizabeth II – a Glorious Part of Guyana’s History

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Published: 29th of September, 2022 by Patrick Carpen

Last updated: April 19, 2023 at 16:08 pm

Queen Elizabeth II in her early teens

Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II, was born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary on the 21st of April, 1926 in Mayfair, London, England at 02:40 hours (GMT), while Guyana was still a British colony and was called British Guiana. She ascended the throne of the British Monarchy on the 6th of February, 1952 after the death of her father, King George VI. Her coronation ceremony took place on June 2, 1953 and was the first televised coronation ceremony in history. Queen Elizabeth II reigned for 70 years until her death on September 8, 2022 after which her son, Prince Charles, became King.

In the early 1950s, fueled by greed and the lure of money, a handful of Guyanese politicians started to persecute the British Empire, fighting for Guyana’s Independence and the end of colonial rule. The two chief ringleaders in the movement were Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham and Dr. Cheddi Jagan. Their freedom fighting activities included burning cane fields, smear campaigns against the British, name calling, and instigating public unrest. And the end result of their actions included racial division, violent clashes between the two major ethnic groups, poverty, international isolation, economic stagnation, starvation, and mass migration. Yet, Burnham and Jagan are hailed as great heroes, sons of the soil, and fathers of the nation for purely racist reasons.

Related: St. Ignatius Secondary School Arts Student Paints Incredible Portrait of Elizabeth 11

I’ll talk more about this later. For now, let’s come back to the topic of the Queen. On the 21st of December, 2007, Queen Elizabeth II broke her great grandmother’s record and became the longest lived British Monarch. On the 9th of September, 2015, she became the longest reigning female Monarch in the world.

On February 4th, 1966, at the start of her Caribbean tour, Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by her husband, Prince Phillip, became the first reigning monarch to visit British Guiana in its 152 years under the British Flag. The then opposition People’s Progressive Party called on its supporters to boycott the Queen’s visit. However, the appeal seem to have fallen on deaf ears as the entire gamut of society turned up to give the Queen an overwhelmingly warm welcome.

On the first day of the 1966 visit, the Royal couple went to the Durban Park Race Track in Georgetown to see the running of the Queen’s trophy. That day, the Queen presented the winning trophy to “Maid of Joy” which was owned by Miss Claudette Joseph of Trinidad.

Queen Elizabeth II served as a mechanic during World War II

During this visit, she opened the Queen Elizabeth II National Park in Georgetown – which was later renamed Guyana National Park.

Accompanied again by her husband, Prince Phillip, Queen Elizabeth paid her second and final visit to Guyana in February, 1994. This time around however, the Queen received a warm welcome from the People’s Progressive Party which had assumed office since 1992. The photo below shows how cozy the then leader of the PPP/C, Dr. Cheddi Jagan, had gotten with the Royal family. There were no calls for boycott this time around. As the saying goes, “all’s well that ends well.”

The royal couple waving from the balcony of Parliament. President Cheddi Jagan is at right. Second from right was then Speaker of the National Assembly, the late Derek Jagan. Source: Stabroek News

The Queen spent the first morning of her 1994 visit touring the Amerindian settlement of Santa Mission. There, she exchanged gifts with the locals, attended a church service, and visited a school and handicraft center. The Queen ended her 4-day visit on Tuesday, 22nd of February, 2022 by laying a wreath for Guyanese soldiers who had died fighting for Britain during the Second World War. That day, hundreds of Guyanese struggled to get a look at the queen at the ceremony at the Commonwealth War Memorial.

At the ripe old age of 96, Elizabeth II reportedly fell ill on September 8, 2022 and was placed under medical supervision at Balmoral Castle. According to a statement from Buckingham Palace, “Following further evaluation this morning, the Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision. The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral.

Queen Elizabeth II died the same day at 15:10 hours BST. The cause of her death was recorded as “old age.” On the 19th of September, 2022, having lived a long, meaningful, and glorious life on earth, she was laid to rest at the King George VI Memorial Chapel.

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