Colombo celebrates Diamond Jubilee
British zest became foremost on May 31, 2012 at Westminster House,
Colombo when the British High Commissioner John Rankin received a
distinguished assemblage of British citizens resident in Sri Lanka and
those who are on a tour of duty here, together with an array of Sri
Lankan Parliamentarians, in a cheerful atmosphere. There was an
abundance of food and drink and visitors were waited on by local staff
sporting British Home Guard uniform.
A sniff of British ambience to the evening was further added by
security guards donning the British Police uniform and appearing like
the ‘British Bobby on the beat’, while a local ensemble emulated the
London Philharmonic Orchestra playing ‘God Save the Queen’. An array of
Union Jacks glided effortlessly with the breeze to the melodious music
and the ceremony was to mark the occasion of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth
II’s Diamond Jubilee which is being officially celebrated throughout
Britain during the first week of June.
Queen Elizabeth II is also the Head of Commonwealth of Nations of
which Sri Lanka is a member. In general terminology ‘Diamond Jubilee’ is
a celebration to mark the 75th anniversary, but in the case of a monarch
the length of his/her reign is calculated as 60 years to celebrate a
Diamond Jubilee, a concept that has become customary since Queen
Victoria’s reign in 1897. In such a backdrop, the Diamond jubilee of
Queen Elizabeth II, in 2012, befits the convention as the second of its
nature in Britain’s history. The Queen was born at 17 Bruton St, London
W1 on April 21, 1926, and Christened on May 29, 1926. Although her real
birthday is on April 21, officially it is celebrated in June. This makes
the year 2012 unique where her birthday and Diamond Jubilee celebration
could be combined together. The Queen married The Duke of Edinburgh on
November 20, 1947 in Westminster Abbey. With the birth of Prince Andrew
in 1960, she became the first reigning Sovereign to have a child since
Queen Victoria, who had her youngest child, Princess Beatrice, in 1857.
Queen Elizabeth II is the second longest serving monarch. Five others in
British history who have reigned for 50 years or more were Victoria
(63), George III (59), Henry III (56), Edward III (50) and James VI of
Scotland (James I of England) for 58 years.
Britains Queen Elizabeth II waves from
her seat in the 1902 State Landau coach during the carriage
procession from Westminster Hall to Buckingham Palace to
celebrate the Queens Diamond Jubilee in London on June 5,
From her official aspect of administrative functions, the Queen has
attended to three and a half million correspondence, sent 175,000
telegrams to centenarians in the UK and in the Commonwealth; almost
540,000 telegrams to couples in the UK and in the Commonwealth
celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary.
In her 60 years of reign the Queen has undertaken 261 official
overseas visits, including 96 state visits, to 116 different countries
ranging from the Cocos Islands, which consist of an area of 5.4 square
miles with a population of 596, to The Peoples' Republic of China with
3.7 million square miles and a population of 1.34 billion. Her Majesty’s
first Commonwealth tour, as Queen Elizabeth II, began on November 24,
1953. Commencing from Canada the Royal visit covered Bermuda, Jamaica,
Panama, Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand, Australia, the Cocos Islands, Sri
Lanka (Ceylon), Aden, Uganda, Libya, Malta and Gibraltar.
In an average year the Queen will host more than 50,000 people at
banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and Garden Parties at Buckingham
A spectacular feature of the Colombo celebration was that the
majority of invitees would have been born after she became Queen
Elizabeth II. From a British legislative perspective Prime Minister Tony
Blair, born in early May, 1953, a month before her Coronation was the
first Prime Minister to have been born during the Queen's reign.
Through a reign of unparalleled change, from post-war Britain through
to the jet age, space age and digital age, Queen Elizabeth II has
remained resolutely unchanged in her commitment to her country by
displaying her altruism, indefatigability, resoluteness and her
superlative commitment by leading an exceptional life of service which
should stand as an example to other world leaders to emulate.
British High Commissioner John Rankin raising a glass of champagne
and proposing a toast to President Mahinda Rajapaksa noted thus:
Britains Queen Elizabeth II (C) waves
from the balcony of Buckingham Palace next to (from Left)
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of
Wales, Prince William, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and
Prince Harry at the end of a coach procession on the final
ceremonial day of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in London on
June 5, 2012. AFP
“Today is also an opportunity to celebrate all the things that bring
Sri Lanka and the UK together. We have a deep historic relationship. But
we also have modern relationship through people to people contact, our
commercial relations and our cultural and sporting links.
“This relationship is based on mutual respect, our shares and values
in the Commonwealth. As a friend of Sri Lanka, I can assure you that we
will continue to support all the efforts of the government of Sri Lanka
and its people to promote reconciliation and a sustainable peace in this
country.” “The United Kingdom is proud of her heritage, which is part of
what makes it the creative and vibrant place it is today.
“But during the past 60 years we have seen many changes in both our
countries and indeed across the wider world. Throughout that period Her
Majesty has been a source of inspiration for many people, young and old
and of all ethnicities and beliefs”.
The Queen has held weekly audiences with 12 British Prime Ministers,
and with her wisdom and enthusiasm has engaged with very many of the
world’s leaders. This coming week’s Diamond jubilee celebrations in
London, which will be attended by the President, will be an opportunity
to celebrate all that she has achieved in her work across the
Commonwealth. With the participation of High Commissioner John Rankin, a
group of young Sri Lankans planted a tree at Westminster House to mark
the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
The British High Commissioner consecrating the tree planting
commented: “I hope it grows well, just as I look forward to see these
young people growing to become leaders and active participants in Sri
Lankan society in the future”.