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Toned-down dress code gives sense of post-pandemic blues

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Winsome Burt, David Burt’s sister, came dressed to impress (Photograph by Sarah Lagan)

There was an air of post-pandemic blues at this year’s Throne Speech ceremony — the first to be held in person since 2019 — with no regiment pageantry, little jubilation and a somewhat toned-down dress code.

Winsome Burt, the Premier’s sister, said it herself: “I think because of Covid it’s been downscaled a bit.”

Ms Burt, a former model, made an effort with her look regardless, bringing a splash of pop star pizzazz to the party. She was all in black with oversized diamanté sunglasses, a tight dress flared at the knee, laced gloves and fedora-style hat.

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, was one of the few MPs whose attire stood out on the day. She wore an elegant, caped cream dress and an eye-catching wispy-feathered hat and held a beautiful beaded purse.

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health (Photograph by Sarah Lagan)
Tourists Judith and Dougie Belmore popped in to watch the ceremony (Photograph by Sarah Lagan)

The MPs were among the last to take their seats for the speech and it was noticeable that Curtis Dickinson, who had recently challenged David Burt for the leadership of the Progressive Labour Party, was the last MP in the PLP line.

Only two tourists turned up to the Cabinet lawn to watch the ceremony — a couple from Scotland who were enjoying their first visit to the island.

Dougie Belmore said: “We read in a guidebook that it was happening. It’s just a nice chance for us to see what’s going on with the governance here. You don’t get to come this close to the ceremony in the UK. I am quite surprised by the lack of security — there is nothing heavy-handed. It’s a fascinating island.”

DeVerne Bean, the sister of the late Walton Brown, was watching from the street with some friends.

She said: “I am very interested in politics and I love the pomp and pageantry. My brother was our former minister Walton Brown Junior. I always supported him for this event and, as he is no longer here, I still like to come and support it. I also really enjoy all the hats and outfits.”

A few items in the Throne Speech, read by Deputy Governor Tom Oppenheim, sans hat and feathers and instead in a suit, stirred the audience to applaud.

These included mention of the Ministry of Health’s performance during the pandemic, funds for the Tynes Bay Waste-to-Energy Facility, work to address abuses by landlords and tenants, provisions for a sliding scale in pension contributions and a new Act to enable the completion of the Morgan’s Point development.

Now it is back to business for another parliamentary session, with the next big event looming large: the Budget.

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Published November 05, 2022 at 8:15 am (Updated November 05, 2022 at 8:15 am)

Toned-down dress code gives sense of post-pandemic blues

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