“This is a promise that all the leaders of our beloved twin-island Republic, present and future, including myself, should aspire to fulfil for the people of the Republic of T&T
A Queen who admired T&T’s steelband and clapped throughout a recent performance, an early pioneer of inspiring girls to leadership – and a leader whose promise of service fulfilled that T&T leaders should also emulate.
This was among sterling tributes paid to the late Queen Elizabeth II in Parliament yesterday by Acting Prime Minister Colm Imbert, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and House Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George.
The UK’s longest-serving monarch died on Thursday at 96.
MPs in the House of Representatives at the Red House yesterday also paid their respects by observing a minute’s silence.
Acting Prime Minister Imbert said Government and T&T’s people joined the rest of the world in mourning the death of Her Royal Majesty. He also extended sincerest condolences to King Charles III and her family,
“… As well as to the people of the United Kingdom who, for more than two generations, have known only one Sovereign, their beloved Queen. She was their one constant in a rapidly evolving world, and many have never known a world without her.”
“Though the Honourable Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley, is not physically present with us today, we speak with one voice in the language of grief and loss, as we reflect on the contribution made by Her Majesty.”
Imbert said as the longest serving and most travelled British Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II visited T&T in 1966, 1985 and was T&T’s special guest when this country hosted the 2009 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
Imbert added, “As part of the Cabinet at that time, I recall her visit here as one that brought great joy to many, as for us too, this was the only Monarch we have known. She was also an ardent admirer of our steelband and insisted that the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force Steel Orchestra play at her recently concluded Jubilee celebrations.
“Indeed, their rendition of ‘Dancing Queen’ was a most fitting tribute to a Monarch who has celebrated the culture of every Commonwealth nation. The pictures of her smiling and clapping through their performance were enough to warm the hearts of the steelband’s fiercest critics. Sadly, that smile, interrupted by death, will be no more.”
Imbert said Queen Elizabeth II dominated the politics of the world for more than seven decades, and her leadership provided the platform for the creation of the modern Britain.
“She has overseen the installation of 15 British Prime Ministers, beginning with the indomitable Sir Winston Churchill and ending with the most recent, Prime Minister Elizabeth Truss.”
He noted that the Queen navigated some of the last and this century’s most challenging moments, “And was forever the advocate for a strong United Kingdom.”
“Through the many tumultuous situations of the last decades, some even touching her own family, Queen Elizabeth II was always the epitome of grace and an enduring calm that earned her many plaudits and admirers,” Imbert said.
“Even as her age advanced and her health declined, she remained Britain’s most popular monarch, and her commitment to country shone even more proudly in the manner in which she handled the confluence of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ascension to Number 10 Downing Street, Britain’s exit from the European Union and the ramifications of the global pandemic, all occurring in close proximity to each other.”
Thank you, Your Majesty – Kamla
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said yesterday that the world awakened yesterday … “To a global community mourning the loss of a soul of immaculate kindness, strength and courage which enriched so many for decades … There is no doubt that our world has lost a figure who has represented determination and dedication to purpose for seventy years.”
“Her words long remembered before she was 25 years old: ‘I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.’ While these were her words as a young Princess Elizabeth in 1947, they became the life story of Her Majesty as she became the longest-serving Monarch of the United Kingdom.”
“Her life was an inspiring one as she demonstrated that neither youth nor gender would prevent her from undertaking a role with such great responsibilities. Indeed, she took up the role of Monarch when she was just 25 years old. … Today, as women across the globe traverse the halls of power in every field, we can all say Queen Elizabeth II stood as one of the early pioneers to inspire young girls across the globe to believe that not only could women equal men at the helm, but they can lead them.”
Persad-Bissessar said she met the Queen in person on the Commonwealth stage.
“I was greatly enlightened by her humour, as well as her great humility, but even more so, I was enriched by her desire to see a better world,” she said.
She was impressed by the Queen’s support for the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting’s theme “Women as Agents for Change” and her Majesty’s call for leaders to unlock the true potential of societies by ensuring women and girls are allowed to play their full part in national development.
“Her Majesty lived a life of service to the British people and to the Commonwealth to the very end, as we saw this week, she appointed the 15th Prime Minister of her reign. … Queen Elizabeth II was more than just a Head of State, she was the calm reassuring voice of hope that stood with the world in tough times. For her years of love, kindness, and dedication to the Commonwealth, we will always be grateful.
“Together, as a Commonwealth, we must move forward stronger, and united by the loving memory of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, for a better future. Today, we say, thank you, your Majesty.”
Promise of service fulfilled – House Speaker
House Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George, also paying tribute, said Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign is characterised by her unwavering dedication and service to her people.
“I admire Her Majesty. In times of war, the Queen served alongside her people and in times of the uncertainty of change, she stood firmly and supportively with her people. Her Majesty has fulfilled her promise to the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth when she vowed that her whole life, whether long or short, shall be devoted to their service.
“This is a promise that all the leaders of our beloved twin-island Republic, present and future, including myself, should aspire to fulfil for the people of the Republic of T&T.
“I dare to add, the Queen fulfilled this role with great humility, and I can help but note, with stylish elegance.
“Her legacy for me evidences that concomitant with privilege, is service, duty, responsibility and restraint.”
Annisette-George added, “As a woman in a position, which has long been dominated by men, in a world which is still patriarchal, less so now than when she first inherited the Crown, Her Majesty the Queen became a symbol for women in leadership.
“The restraints on her role, which demanded abstinence from political commentary and any perceptions of political bias, however, did not prevent her from making statements in support of women’s equality and bolstering these statements by her actions.
“Who can forget when Her Majesty chauffeured another Monarch on her Scottish estate? Or her statement in 2011 at the British Commonwealth Summit in Australia encouraging societies ‘to find ways to allow girls and women to play their full part’.”
Noting her excitement as a child when the Queen and Head of State of T&T visited this country, Annisette-George recalled, “Although we are an independent Republic, the Queen’s life shall remain woven into the history of T&T, as she was our last British Monarch, before we became a Republic in 1976.
“The Royal Family, the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth underwent constant changes and experienced significant challenges during her reign and Her Majesty the Queen presided over them all, epitomising duty, stability, wisdom and grace.”