Barbadians are expected to come out in their thousands, and assemble at every vantage point, on Monday, June 4, at the Garrison Savannah, to witness the Beacon Lighting Ceremony, as this country joins other nations of the Commonwealth to celebrate Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee.
Queen Elizabeth II is the second monarch in British history to have reached such a milestone; Queen Victoria (her great, great grandmother) also achieved such a feat, and in 1897 beacons throughout the United Kingdom were lit to celebrate her reign.
Billed as the sunset parade, the ceremony will feature the symbolic lighting of a seven-foot tall Church Tower Beacon at 6:30 p.m. Two outstanding members of the Barbados Boys’ Scouts Association, 16-year-old Jamar Miller of St. Leonard’s Cub Scouts, and 15-year-old Johnovan King, of St. Stephen’s Cub Scouts will do the honours, as a fitting way to also mark their organisation’s centenary. Both of them have been the recipients of the highest accolade in scouting in Barbados – the Mahogany Award.
However, the actual Beacon Lighting Ceremony will have three segments. First, dozens of armed detachments of the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) will depict Trooping the Colour accompanied by the Massed Band of the BDF and the Royal Barbados Police Force. Steeped in tradition, this spectacular parade, characterised by its pomp and pageantry, will get under way at 5:30 p.m. Also known as the Queen’s Birthday Parade, it dates back to the 17th century and, over the years, has been performed by regiments of the British and Commonwealth armies.
On battlefields, a regiment’s colours, or flags, were used as rallying points. Consequently, regiments would have their Ensigns slowly march with their colours between the ranks to enable soldiers to recognise their regiments’ colours.
The June 4 parade will mark the third time such an event has been staged in Barbados- the first occasion was in 1975, when cricketing legend and this island’s only living national hero, the Right Excellent, Sir Garfield Sobers, was knighted at the same venue by Her Majesty, The Queen. The second time was for this country’s 21st anniversary of Independence.
In making the official announcement on May 23, Cabinet Secretary, Keith Franklin, described the ceremony as the premier event to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. He pointed out that Barbados would be one of 3,300 sites in the 54-member nations of the Commonwealth in which the beacon would be lit simultaneously.
Following the lighting of the beacon, members of the Royal Barbados Police Force will bring the evening’s proceedings to a fitting climax with a Tattoo. This will involve 12 horses of the Mounted Troop, the force’s canine unit, Special Services Unit and the motorcycle division, all performing a special array of manoeuvres.
In order that as many persons as possible will have the opportunity to witness this display, schools and government offices will close on Monday at 2:30 p.m., and it is anticipated that the private sector may follow suit. Schools in the vicinity are being encouraged to take the opportunity to see another aspect of history unfolding.
Tickets for the event will soon be available from the Cabinet Office on Bay Street, for persons who are desirous of being seated. Special security arrangements will also be in place to ensure the public’s safety.
The Beacon Lighting Ceremony will be preceded by a National Thanksgiving Ecumenical Service at St. Mary’s Anglican Church, on Sunday, June 3, beginning at 4:00 p.m. The Chief Celebrant will be Dean of St. Michael’s Cathedral, the Right Reverend Dr. Frank Marshall, while Archbishop of the West Indies and Bishop of Barbados, the Most Reverend, Dr. The Honourable, John Holder, will administer the blessing and benediction. He will also deliver the sermon.
Minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, has been designated as the coordinating Minister for the celebrations.