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Obituary: The Queen saw Bermuda develop from segregation to modernity

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2009 visit: The Queen arrives at Dockyard (File photograph)

In her long reign of 70 years, the Queen visited Bermuda six times, the visits ranging from two brief aircraft refuelling stopovers to a full, three-day tour, designed to meet or be seen by as many people as possible.

During that time, she struck a blow against Bermuda’s rigid segregation laws, weathered the embarrassment of the still-unsolved crime of the theft of the priceless “Tucker Cross” and has seen our narrow roads crowded with thousands waving the Union and the Bermuda flags.

She approved honours from the Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour to knighthoods to hundreds of Bermudians, including the investiture of two Bermudians in a ceremony here.

As Monarch, she also refused to intervene in exercising the Royal prerogative of mercy in the last executions on British soil of two men for a crime spree that included the assassination of her representative, Governor Sir Richard Sharples.

Flashback: Labour movement founding father Dr. E. F. Gordan meets the Queen and the Duke Edinburgh in St. George's Town Square in 1953. Dr. Gordan is preceded by S. S. Toddings, MCP, who was publisher and editor of the Mid-Ocean News.

Most of all, she saw Bermuda develop from a relatively sleepy tourist spot, burdened by the yoke of segregation, into a player in the world’s economy and led by black people.

Shortly after her coronation on June 2, 1953, she embarked on a world tour to introduce herself to her subjects, beginning in Bermuda, England’s second oldest colony, and oldest still in the Empire on November 24, 1953, spending just over 24 hours on island with the Duke of Edinburgh.

History lesson: the Queen walks past a mural depicting Bermuda's history after she officially unveiled the work at the Maritime Museum at Dockyard in November 2009 (Photograph by Ken Goff/Solo Pool/PA Wire/File)

They returned on February 16, 1975, for a two-day visit, touring the island from end to end with large crowds at each event an lining the roads.

In 1976 and 1983, the Queen made brief stopovers at the Civil Air Terminal for refuelling for visits to the US and to the US and Canada, respectively.

Her next official visit was for two days beginning on March 8, 1994.

Queen Elizabeth’s November 24-26, 2009 visit was the culmination of the celebrations of the 400th anniversary of English settlement of Bermuda.

It also began 56 years to the day since she first travelled to the archipelago.

Christened Elizabeth Alexandra Mary in the chapel of Buckingham Palace, in May of 1926, the Princess’s early years were spent in London at 145 Piccadilly, the house taken by her parents shortly after her birth.

She later stayed at the White Lodge in Richmond Park, and at the country residences of her grandparents, King George V and Queen Mary, and the Earl and Countess of Strathmore.

Princess Elizabeth and her younger sister, Princess Margaret, received their early education at home.

After her father replaced his brother Edward VIII and ascended to the Throne in 1936, she became ‘heiress presumptive’, and her education was extended to include lessons on constitutional history and law.

As the Princess grew older she began to take part in public life.

She was 14 when she made her first public broadcast, in a message given during the British Broadcasting Corporation’s programme to the children of Britain and the Commonwealth in October, 1940.

The Queen, (far right) leaves the Sessions House in 1976 accompanied by (from left) the Duke of Edinburgh, Speaker L.P. Gutteridge, Opposition Leader Dame Lois Browne Evans, Premier Sir John Sharpe and Chief Justice Sir James Astwood.

Early in 1942 she was appointed Colonel of the Grenadier Guards and, on her 16th birthday, carried out her first public engagement when she inspected the regiment.

In 1944 during the King’s absence — he was touring the Italian battlefields — and shortly after her 18th birthday, Princess Elizabeth was appointed a Counsellor of State, exercising certain functions of the Crown.

After the end of the war Princess Elizabeth’s public engagements grew in number and she attended public functions extensively throughout the British Isles.

Her first official visit overseas took place in 1947 when she accompanied her family on a tour of South Africa.

Shortly after their return to Britain came the announcement of Princess Elizabeth’s engagement to Royal Navy Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, son of Prince Andrew of Greece and great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria.

Their wedding took place in Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947.

In 1952, when King George’s illness made it inadvisable for him to carry out his projected visit to Australia and New Zealand, the Princess and the Duke took his place.

It was on the first stage of this journey, in Kenya, that she received the news of her father’s death and her own accession to the Throne.

The Queen with The Rt Hon Lord Waddington in 1994 arriving at the airport (Photograph by David Skinner )

Her Majesty’s Coronation took place in Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953, sparking celebrations and a public holiday in Bermuda.

Two of the Queen and Prince Philip’s children were born before the Coronation — Prince Charles in 1948, who will now become King Charles III, and Princess Anne in 1950.

Prince Andrew was born in 1960 and Prince Edward in 1964.

They had eight grandchildren: Peter and Zara Phillips; Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, and Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex; Princess Beatrice of York and Princess Eugenie of York; and Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor and James Mountbatten-Windsor, Viscount Severn.

Prince George, the son of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, is now second in line to the throne after his father, who is in line to become Prince of Wales.

This year the Queen celebrated the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne with the Platinum Jubilee.

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Published September 09, 2022 at 7:42 am (Updated September 09, 2022 at 10:40 am)

Obituary: The Queen saw Bermuda develop from segregation to modernity

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