A special joint sitting of the Houses of Parliament was held on Wednesday (June 6) to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, led the tributes to Her Majesty, which preceded the unveiling of a commemorative plaque to mark the Diamond Jubilee.
Mrs. Simpson Miller said the people of Jamaica have historically held the Queen in high regard esteem “we have no doubt that the Queen has a tender spot in her heart for Jamaica."
She said that as Jamaica celebrates with Her Majesty, it is significant that in this year, the country is also celebrating 50 years of nationhood, which has brought opportunities, achievements and challenges.
She said that notwithstanding the administration’s expressed desire to complete the Independence of Jamaica and to reinforce the country’s identity as an independent people, “Jamaica holds and will always hold the British Monarchy in high esteem, and has found within that institution, many areas for emulation as we pursue a path for sustainable development for all our citizens."
For his part, Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Holness noted that 60 years at any point in life is an achievement to be celebrated, “and there is no doubt that the Queen has fulfilled her duties in an exemplary way both in her country, the Commonwealth and the world stage."
President of the Senate, Rev. Stanley Redwood, stated while there might be mixed feelings towards the monarchy, “the fact is that Her Majesty the Queen has served with impeccable and unquestioned commitment for 60 years."
He said the Queen has been a steady and constant factor amid political and social changes not only for Jamaica but for all Commonwealth countries.
“Even as we embark as a nation on the next 50 years of our Independence and consider the desirability of becoming a republic it is right that we pause at this junction to honour and celebrate the major milestone in the life of the nation and the relationship we have with her Majesty the Queen,” he stated.
In the history of the British Monarchy, the Queen is only the second Sovereign to attain the Diamond Jubilee milestone, following Queen Victoria, who served for almost 64 years.
During her 60-year reign, the Queen visited Jamaica on six occasions: in November 1953 during the first Commonwealth tour of her reign; March 1966 during a Caribbean tour; April 1975 for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kingston; February 1983 on the 21st Anniversary of Independence; in 1994 during another tour of the Caribbean; and February 2002 as part of her Golden Jubilee celebrations.
As part of activities to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, beacons were lit on June 4 at St. William Grant Park downtown Kingston; Montego Bay Civic Centre, St. James; Seville Heritage Park, St. Ann; and at the Port Antonio town centre in Portland.
A church service is to be held 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.
Later in the year, a supplement 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 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 Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter