How the overseas territories celebrated the Coronation
by Jonathan Kitto, Research Assistant
The coronation weekend was full of pageantry with celebrations being held throughout the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. The British Overseas Territories were very much at the heart of the festivities, with members of the BOT police and armed forces partaking in the coronation parade from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace and the flags of the territories being proudly on display at Parliament Square. In addition, the governors and elected heads of government from each territory traveled to attend the coronation ceremony, proudly representing their territories. Two newly commissioned stained glass windows have also been unveiled at Speakers House, depicting the various coats of arms of the 16 overseas territories, symbolising the important bond between the UK and the BOTs.
As well as participating in the London-based activities, the territories have also held their own events to mark the special occasion, each celebrating the coronation of their sovereign in a unique way.
In Gibraltar a parade was held on Wednesday 3rd May and the Governor and Chief Minister then visited all the schools in the territory on 4th May, joining their various concerts and garden parties. A live streaming of the coronation on Saturday 6th May was held at Casemates Square enabling the community to come together to watch the crowning of King Charle and Queen Camilla, followed by street parties, a parade and a Royal 21 Gun Salute.
In the sovereign base areas on Cyprus a fete was held to mark the coronation including live music performances and a parachute display at RAF Akrotiri.
The Pitcairn Islands have released new commemorative stamps to mark the coronation. The Mayor of Pitcairn - Simon Young - attended the coronation in person, embarking on perhaps the longest journey of any leader to travel to London.
In the Atlantic, Bermuda marked the coronation with tree planting on 6th May and the opening of the aptly named Coronation Garden, recognising the King’s commitment to the environment and sustainable farming. A service of Thanksgiving was held at The Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity on 7th May and a Children’s reading festival marked the public holiday on 8th May in recognition of the Queen Consort’s efforts to encourage literacy among young people.
There was a host of activities held in the British Virgin Islands with the Royal BVI Yacht Club organising a race from Tortola to Peter Island on 8th May. The race was rounded off with a picnic and games held on Peter Island followed by a beach clean as part of the “Big Help Out” initiative, aimed at promoting volunteering. A brunch was also held at Government house and the Royal BVI Police performed a 21 gun salute.
Elsewhere in the Caribbean, schools in the Turks and Caicos Islands celebrated by making crowns and enjoying a “dress down” day while flying the flags of the Turks and Caicos and the UK. There was also a public live stream of the coronation while troops from the TCI Regiment and police traveled to London to join the military parade.
The Cayman Islands celebrated the coronation in style with food, live entertainment and an impressive fireworks display on Monday 8th May.
On the island of Montserrat a brief ceremony was held to mark the occasion followed by a 21 Gun salute by members of the Royal Montserrat Defence Force and the Royal Montserrat Police.
In the South Atlantic, the people of St Helena kicked off celebrations with a Service of Commemoration followed by their very own coronation parade, complete with novelty sports and a baking competition. Festivities also included a unique “Jacob’s Ladder Challenge” with residents receiving special certificates for taking on the infamous 699 steps leading up the valley from Jamestown - an incline of 183m.
The world’s most remote island - Tristan Da Cunha - also sent a representative to the coronation in London, Chief Islander, James Glass. Back home, the small but tight-knit community of the Island watched the coronation together in the Prince Philip Hall followed by fun and games at St Mary’s School with a buffet and refreshments.
A wide range of activities were held in the Falklands to celebrate the coronation. This included afternoon tea for those members of the community who can remember the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. There was also a royal fancy dress party, live music and a “Big Lunch”. A volunteer exposition was also held and as part of the Big Help Out, members of both the community and the local military garrison pledged time to volunteer on three different projects.
The RRS David Attenborough also called into the Falkland Islands, adorned in flags and finery to mark the special day and invited members of the community on board to share the celebrations, as the ship makes its long trip home to the UK from Antartica. Perhaps the highlight of the day was the flypast organised by British Forces South Atlantic Islands, with Port Stanley determined not to be outdone by the festivities in London.
A street party was held at King Edward Point in South Georgia by the administrative and research staff based on the island - with a playful invitation for members of the public to join in, should they find themselves in the vicinity of the remote territory.
The most southerly of the overseas territories also joined the fun, with winter staff based at Rothera station in the British Antarctic Territory watching the coronation on live stream before celebrating in style with a ski trip.
The great variety in which the BOTs marked the coronation is a testament to their diversity and vibrancy as well as the close relationship between the territories and the United Kingdom.