I was a celebrant in the Coronation celebrations in 1953 and began public service duties as a teacher in 1955. I have been privileged to follow the seventy years of her reign. Two other Queens who reigned for long periods are Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603), forty five years, and Queen Victoria (1837-1901), sixty eight years. Queen Elizabeth II has taken the title of the longest reigning monarch from Queen Victoria.
Queen Elizabeth II Coronation celebrations in the B. V. I. were an occasion of "Pomp and Circumstance." B. V. Islanders from across the Territory took part in the celebrations in Road Town although there were no motorable roads leading to Road Town. I can remember the evening Jack O Lantern parade. Those lights wére beautiful to the mind of a youth.( The Coronation parade was the precursor to the Festival parade which began in 1954).
That celebration took place at a time when the B. V. I. was struggling to shed some of the colonial burdens that had characterized its relationship with the UK through the Leeward Islands Federation. The B. V. I had not long had its Legislative Council restored after the UK had suspended it for forty eight years(1902-1950). It was during that Coronation year that univrrsal suffrage became a reality. Those very early years of the 1950's signalled the dawn of a new day for B. V. Islanders but the sun had not risen. I recall Coronation mugs were distributed around the Territory. This souvenir meant a lot to some people, while others said it was a symbol of oppression. Many homes still possess a Coronation mug.
The young Queen, although unkown to B. V. Islanders, became a favourite through her portraits which were posted in public and private places.
What is striking to me is the similarity between the the relationship between the B. V. I. and the UK at the time of the Queen's Coronation and thr relationship with the UK at the time of her Platinum Jubilee.
In 1953 B. V. Islanders were struggling with an uneasy feeling about their future with the UK. The Moyne Commission in 1939 had recommended that the Leeward Islands and the Windwsrd Islands should become one federation. The B. V. I. was trying to escape one federation and there were talks about creating another federation. Fast forward seventy yesrs during the Platinum Jubilee, B. V. Islanders are experiencing similar uneasy feelings about their future relationship with the UK. That relationship is a "bread and butter" issue affecting all of us. I leave the words of Alexander Pope with you, "A little lesrning is a dangerous thing. Drink deep or taste not the Pierian Spring."
- Dr. Charles H Wheatley