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Sir John Swan encourages King to visit as late Queen receives 21-rifle salute

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The 21-rifle salute at Government House to mark the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

King Charles III has been urged by a former premier to follow in his mother’s footsteps and make Bermuda a priority visit of his reign.

Speaking at a 21-rifle salute by the Royal Bermuda Regiment at Government House in memory of Queen Elizabeth II yesterday, Sir John Swan said it would be a good idea for the new monarch to visit the island as soon as possible.

After her coronation in 1953, the Queen began a six-month global tour of the Commonwealth in Bermuda.

Sir John told The Royal Gazette: “It is still Bermuda. It is still part of the Commonwealth. It’s still a dependent territory, and, I think, there are only 13 left, so why not come to a place that your mother put her foot down in?

“And I remember that, because I was a young person, she is only nine years older than I am — so I remember that visit.

Young guests at the 21-rifle salute at Government House to mark the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

“My whole life has really been a life with the Queen, and now we have a King. And I hope that the King will, at least, give us the grace and the benefit of coming so that we too can wish him well on his journey to create his own footsteps that leaves a legacy for the next monarch that comes along.”

Speaking of the Government House tribute to the late Queen, Sir John said: “It was an excellent ceremony.

“It was simple, but dignified. It sent a message that we are a civilised society, that we are a respectful society.

“We are a society that looks up to the head of the Commonwealth as a person that has given us guidance, has given us dignity, given us grace.”

The ceremony was presided over by Rena Lalgie, the Governor.

Also in attendance was Walter Roban, the Acting Premier and home affairs minister, Jarion Richardson, the One Bermuda Alliance deputy leader, and other dignitaries.

David Gibbons, Honorary Colonel of the Royal Bermuda Regiment, described the Queen as “serene” when he met her.

He said: “I thought it was a very poignant ceremony.

“It was a fitting farewell to just an outstanding person who did so much for the world and brought people together.

“I met the Queen — I was fortunate enough to receive an OBE and she was presiding at the ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

“The Queen had a presence, there is no other way of putting it. Just a calm, serene, remarkable person.”

The 21-rifle salute at Government House to mark the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Martin Weekes, the Acting Deputy Commissioner of the Bermuda Police Service, remembered speaking to the Queen when she visited the island in 1994 when he was a constable.

He said: “I met the Queen a couple of times.

“I met her when she was here in 2009 and also, I have a picture of myself, which I’m very proud of, it’s up on my wall at home, when she was here in 1994 and visited St George’s.

“I stood right outside the door of the town hall and she stopped to speak to me.

“I was totally taken aback. I wasn’t expecting that.

“I was just a young constable and she came up and started talking to me.

“She asked me how I was doing, if I had been standing there too long, and said hopefully I hadn’t. It was very nice.

“My experiences with Her Majesty were always very positive. I was a big fan.

“We are looking forward to the proclamation parade on Sunday morning which will be a bigger event, more like the one we are used to seeing with the Queen’s birthday parade.”

Rena Lalgie salutes during the 21-rifle salute at Government House to mark the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Mark Anderson, whose drag name is the Queen of Bermuda, also said he would like to see King Charles III visit Bermuda.

He said: “I think that he will follow in the footsteps of his mother. I think he will follow suit.

“I would say to him this is all about diversity, this is all about bringing the community together and respect.

“I would say to him I would love to see marriage equality the same in Bermuda as in England.”

Speaking of the gun salute, Mr Anderson said: “I’m here because most of us grew up with Queen Elizabeth.

“Her fashion was very nice. Everything that she wore complemented her. It was always elegant.”

Donna Bradshaw, who was awarded a Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour in 2012, for promoting tennis, said: “The reason I am here today is to honour a wonderful human being — dignity, poise, respect, you name it, she had it.

“I received the Badge of Honour for tennis. I, previously was No 1 in Bermuda, many years ago.”

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Published September 10, 2022 at 7:58 am (Updated September 10, 2022 at 7:58 am)

Sir John Swan encourages King to visit as late Queen receives 21-rifle salute

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