HARRIET Cross, British High Commissioner to TT, says Queen Elizabeth II was particularly fond of TT and the region, having made three memorable visits to this country between 1966 and 2009.
Cross was speaking to reporters at the British High Commission in St Clair on Thursday afternoon, shortly after the queen’s death was announced. Questions were not taken, apparently because of protocol restrictions.
Cross said, “She was a queen that loved the Caribbean, she loved Trinidad and Tobago.”
Elizabeth II was the UK’s longest serving monarch, celebrating her Platinum Jubilee in February to mark 70 years on the throne.
TT’s Defence Force Steel Orchestra visited Windsor for the celebrations, putting on a rendition of Abba’s Dancing Queen, essentially her final “interaction” with TT.
Cross referred to the performance, saying, “She smiled, she laughed and she clapped, and I’m just really pleased that she got that moment, a sort of Caribbean joy, as part of those celebrations.”
Cross said she had not met the queen before the queen’s last visit to TT, in 2009, for the Commonwealth Heads of Government of the Commonwealth of Nations.
The queen’s other visits to TT were in 1966, during a four-day royal tour and in 1985 for the TT stop on the Caribbean Commonwealth Tours.
In 1966, Elizabeth II opened the new session of Parliament and gave a speech, outlining the government’s plan for that year. According to the West India Committee Chronicle, “(Elizabeth) prayed that God would give the strength and steadfastness to the Government and the nation to keep the path they had been freely instructed to do.”
She visited again for the TT leg of the Caribbean Commonwealth Tours when she was hosted by then President and TT’s last governor-general Sir Ellis Clarke.
“I actually had the pleasure of meeting her for the first time in Trinidad and Tobago which was such a coincidence really.
“I never thought I’d actually be back here and having to make such a sad announcement today.”
The high commission and the UK will observe a period of mourning until a state funeral takes place, on a date of which is expected to be announced within the next ten days.
The high commission shares its building space with the Embassy of Germany and both flew their country’s flags at half-mast.
“You’ll notice that the flags will go back up again because the king will accede to the throne probably within the next 24-36 hours,” Cross said.
She thanked all who offered condolences and support, and said all messages will be passed on to the (Buckingham) palace and to the king.
A book of condolences will be opened for the public to sign at the high commission, on Friday, together with an online condolence book.
Earlier on Thursday, Cross tweeted on the queen’s passing, writing, “I am heartbroken by the death today of Her Majesty The Queen, the only Monarch most Britons have ever known, so long was her service.”
The Ministry of National Security also announced on Thursday that all state and non-state agencies, together with all TT diplomatic missions, will hoist TT’s national flag at half-mast immediately, as well as on Friday, and again on the day of the queen’s funeral.
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