Monday, 5 March 2012

CROWNING GLORY: Jamaica’s long tradition of hosting royalty

FIT FOR A QUEEN: HRH Elizabeth II admires a gigantic bunch of bananas at a museum in Montego Bay in February 2002.

As the country awaits the arrival this Monday of Prince Harry of Wales, third in line to the British throne (behind his father and elder brother), TALLAWAH takes a look at previous royal visits to Jamaica, which highlight our storied history of playing host to kings and queens.

The Queen of England, Her Majesty Elizabeth II (who this year marks her Diamond Jubilee), has visited Jamaica on six occasions during her reign. The monarch made her first trip to the island in November 1953, during the first Commonwealth tour of her reign. In March 1966, The Queen again visited Jamaica during a Caribbean tour. That same year, The Duke of Edinburgh returned to open to our shores to officially open the 8th British Empire and Commonwealth Games. The Queen and the Duke visited Jamaica again in April 1975, coinciding with the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Kingston.

In February 1983, Queen Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh made another visit, during which Her Royal Highness opened the Jamaican Parliament to celebrate the 21st Anniversary year of Independence. In 1994, The Queen was here again as part of a tour of the Caribbean, which also took her to Anguilla, Belize, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Dominica, Guyana, and the Cayman Islands.

Her Majesty’s most recent visit to Jamaica, however, was in 2002, as part of her Golden Jubilee celebrations. Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen attended a special session of Parliament at Gordon House before embarking on a tour of the second city of Montego Bay.

In the meantime, other members of Britain’s royal family have paid regular visits to the island. Recent visitors include Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, who was here in 2000; The Earl of Wessex, who visited in 2003; and Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, whose 2005 visit saw her endorsing national projects to benefit the Save the Children Fund.

OUT OF AFRICA: And, of course, mention must be made of Ethiopian monarch HIM Haile Selassie’s trip to Jamaica in April 1966, which reportedly prompted some 100,000 Rastafarians to descend on the Palisadoes Airport playing drums and smoking large quantities of marijuana.

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