Scores of persons gathered at the St. William Grant Park downtown Kingston last night (June 4), for the beacon lighting ceremony in honour of the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, headed the list of dignitaries at the ceremony, which included performances from the Jamaica Combined Cadet Force; the Boys' Brigade; the Girls’ Brigade; the Scouts Association, among others.
Ministers of Government; Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Antony Anderson; Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington; British High Commissioner, Howard Drake; Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Holness; and members of the Diplomatic Corps, were also in attendance.
Custos of Kingston, Hon. Steadman Fuller, who lit the beacon at precisely 10:00 p.m, said that some 4,000 beacons were lit across the Commonwealth to mark the historic celebrations. The beacons, he said, serve as a symbol of unity.
“As we light this beacon and join communities, groups and organisations in this historic celebration, we congratulate Her Majesty The Queen on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee and commend her for her leadership of the Commonwealth,” he said.
Deputy Mayor of Kingston, Andrew Swaby, said the Queen has remained true to her pledge of dedication to the people of the Commonwealth, adding that the ceremony aims at honouring “a remarkable and extraordinary record of 60 years of unbroken and unswerving service and dedication to duty”.
Three other beacons were lit simultaneously at the Montego Bay Civic Centre, St. James; Seville Heritage Park, St. Ann; and at the Port Antonio town centre in Portland. They will remain ignited for 24 hours.
The beacons were designed by the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and built by students from the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI).
Similar ceremonies were held in the United Kingdom (UK) and across the globe on the day, with Her Majesty lighting the National Beacon in London.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne as of February 6, 2012.
Other events being held in Jamaica to mark the milestone include a church service on Sunday (June 10) at the St. Andrew Parish Church starting at 10:30 a.m., while an exhibition will be held later this month to highlight the visits by Her Majesty to Jamaica, a history of Jamaica-Britain relations, and the recipients of awards presented by Her Majesty.
Later in the year, asupplement will be published highlighting the activities in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee as well as provide a historical review of Her Majesty’s reign.
Commemorative Diamond Jubilee Medals will also be issued later this year by Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen to members of the armed forces, emergency services and prison service personnel in recognition of the 60th year of the reign of Her Majesty.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter