I have known the Queen of Jamaica (Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith) all of my life. And this is the queen that I have known. I am sure she was present at my birth.

Queen Elizabeth II

Because she was everywhere. In every home, in every shop, in every bar, in every school. And on everything – on the money, on the stamps and on the spoon and cup and vase that was in the cabinet and was never used at all.

Queen Elizabeth on the pound, the truppance and a hapenny stamp

And in the room where I was born, she would have been there, on the wall looking down, with her crown and blue sash. In addition to the images, her name was called everywhere – at the Post Office, at school, at the Court Hose and at Church where we prayed for her and all of the Royal Family every Sunday. This cannot be erased from my memory.

ALMIGHTY God, the fountain of all goodness, we humbly beseech thee to bless Philip Duke of Edinburgh, Charles Prince of Wales, and all the Royal Family: Endue them with thy Holy Spirit; enrich them with thy heavenly grace; prosper them with all happiness; and bring them to thine everlasting kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

So while listening to the broadcast of her funeral on the BBC, and missing a local interpreter to explain what is equerry, who is a rating and why the commentator on the BBC is pronouncing  the word Mall as maahl, and why Camilla is being called the Kings Consort – certainly consort is a bad wud. I imagined for a while that when the PM returned her would organize a reenactment of the final journey, with a procession from Gordon Hose to National Heroes Park and with as much pomp as the ceremony he attended in England.

And I am seeing in my minds eye the procession as it gets to the top of Duke Street and with an RJR announcer who is tune with the hundreds of thousands who are listening.

Imagined parade in honor of the passing of the Queen

Parade heading to Heroes Park from the south..

Behind the leaders of the parade is the squadron of ratings of the JDF Coast Guard in their No. 1 uniforms with black arm bands. As the cortege nears the top of Duke Street, the majestic Blue Mountains appear almost as a backdrop to the day’s somber events. The music from the regimental band of the First battalion is Funeral March #1 from Beethoven.

Today is the final day of the extended official mourning for Her Majesty and this has caused some controversy as the UK declared only 10 days of mourning while Jamaica declared 12. Other countries have been conservative: India and Australia 1 day, Kenya 3 days, Canada 10 days. In addition, Australia also declared a public holiday. The Jamaican authorities have responded in a unique way. They declared that the extended period of mourning is both an expression of deep remorse at the death of Her Majesty as well as an assertion of our independence and a display of our willingness to do as we see fit. Further, in keeping with the national culture, Minister Babsy has reminded that when we have the passing of a local head of state, the response would have included:

– Official Grave Digging Ceremonies

– Nightly Celebrations

– Official Nine night to be held at King’s House. This would last from 8 pm to 8 am the following day

– Official Repast at the National Arena, and

– At least one Public Holiday

Part of the parade

The parade now takes a slight right turn at the top of Duke Street to go onto South Heroes Circle. On the left is formed a platoon of the Royal Crab Guards. They, like the Horse Guards in the UK, have been in the service of the royals for centuries and have been quietly in the service of the nation on many special occasions. One will remember the visit if HRH Princess Alice during the Independence celebrations in 1962, when she visited the then renamed George VI Memorial Park, after laying a wreath, she retreated to the western section of the Park for crab and boiled corn. Unknown to many also, was a request for President Obama to visit the crab sellers, however, it could not be accommodated on his schedule and the crabs were delivered to him instead. On these occasions, only the Royal King and Jamaica Red varieties of crab are prepared. It would be very impolite to say that the royal family is crabbit, but they certainly enjoy Jamaican crabs.

Dear listeners, you may be asking if the KFG gate which the cortege is about to enter is somehow related to KFC. The answer is no as KFG actually means King George Fling. The story is that on the visit of King George to the island, the best horses form the Royal Stables at Up Park Camp were chosen for the royal party that was to enter the park on horseback. The king was on a snow-white superb stallion and was a few lengths behind the parade commander who was on a mare. The excitement of the parade must have got to the Kings stallion who mistakenly thought it was good time to reveal his studly instincts and perhaps triggered by the horns, he attempted to jump the mare of the parade commander. Because of his rearing, His Majesty fell and were it not for the alertness and quick action of his orderly would certainly have ended up with a Royal coco on his head. For his gallantry, the orderly received an MBO – Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. In local parlance, the king was flung and hence the name King Fling Gate or KFG.

And in the park which has been properly manicured and the homeless persons relocated, we can see other troop formations of the JDF. To the north are the infantry units who in a few minutes will start licking some shot for the dearly departed majesty, by offering a 21-gun salute with firing at 1-minute intervals.

Nearer to the Cenotaph, there are the Cavalry platoons all mounted on well-groomed and decorated horses. HRH Elizabeth was certainly a lover of animals and a patron of many animal care societies. She cared a lot for her canines and the royal doggies were a part of all events at the palace.  She was an avid rider and lover of equines and her favorite pony was a part of the guard at Buckingham Palace for the passage of her coffin. The queen however did not have an equal love for felines and there were no royal pussies around the palace.

But that was all a dream, and it fought hard against another dream. The same parade, the same route with the same purpose. But in the other dream, the Royal Family decided that the queen was to be interred in Heroes Park and Brite Lite was in charge of the funeral arrangements. So in addition to the formal military parade and the official mourners, there were 4 hearses with music, 3 trailers equipped as music trucks a and 500 girls with short shorts and pom poms, and an entire battalion of juice man and nuts man and everyone who came got a vuvuzela…

Wake Up!

Goodbye my Queen. You played your hand well. Please do not feel too bad when we shub out Charles as the head of state – you must understand that after all these years, we could never do that to you, but we don’t really like Charles. And find it in you heart to forgive two other transgressions.

1. When you come we always sing – Long Time Gal We Never See You! Don’t feel no way – That gal is the Royal Gal, not the gal like a skettel  or trouble maker.

2. You have some people who parody God Save Our Gracious Queen. Dem never mean to embarrass you when dem rhyme queen with dasheen and figurine. Please find it in your royal heart to forgive them.

With Nuff Respect, I take my leave.

Ave atque vale

About conliffews

First time blogger
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