Bermuda, Britain’s oldest overseas territory, watches the Queen’s funeral

Bermuda, Britain’s oldest overseas territory, watches the Queen’s funeral

Bermuda, Britain’s oldest overseas territory, watches the Queen’s funeral

HAMILTON, Bermuda – The Bermuda Musical and Dramatic Society has featured royal weddings. Community theater here in the capital of Britain’s oldest overseas territory has been celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s Jubilee, including her Platinum Jubilee in June, marking her 70 years on the throne.

And then on Monday, about two dozen of its members met before sunrise over bacon sandwiches and mimosas, around a bar in the Daylesford Theater draped in Union Jack flags, to toast “To Her Majesty” on the more somber occasion of her funeral.

“We feel a kinship with her,” said Alan Brooks, 67, a retail manager in Bermuda who served in the Royal Navy. “Whenever there have been special occasions in her life that we felt we needed to mark, we have marked them. … And unfortunately, we are now marking the last event in her life.”

Those gathered at the theater watched in mostly pin-drop silence. Some sang, softly or hummed the hymns. All stood for “God save the king”.

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Bermuda’s governor declared a public holiday here on Monday, and many of the bars, banks, restaurants and shops on the trendy, pastel-hued Front Street promenade were closed.

Governor Rena Lalgie and Premier David Burt were in London for the funeral. Tanya Davis, Lalgie’s private secretary, said officials expected most Bermudians would watch the funeral at home. They planned a service at the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity on September 24.

But not everyone watched the funeral. Some were apathetic or uninterested. In an open pub in Hamilton, the funeral took place on the televisions, but the one couple who dined there early on Monday afternoon paid it little attention.

Dylan Wilson, 25, said he caught footage of the funeral procession on TV. Wilson, who works in digital marketing, said he hadn’t thought much about the British royal family or the queen but was happy to have a day off.

Kris Smith felt otherwise. The 25-year-old project manager did not watch the funeral, choosing to spend the morning training and planning the week instead. He said he was going to take his dog for a walk in the afternoon.

“I’m very upset about the holiday,” Smith said. “Lots to do and everything is closed.”

Elizabeth came to Bermuda several times. Her first visit was to Prince Philip in 1953, during her six-month tour of the Commonwealth following her coronation.

Kim Day, the president of the Bermuda Musical and Dramatic Society’s executive committee, has fond memories of a visit in 1994, when the Queen had a small talk with local Cub Scouts. Her son was one of them.

“I was about two feet away from her,” Day recalled. “It was back in the days before mobile phones, so nobody took a real close-up, which is a real shame.”

The Bermuda Musical and Dramatic Society, an amateur theater established in 1945, planned the funeral screening late last week. Jennifer Campbell, a Canadian who has lived in Bermuda since 2001, said some of the members are like her: expats from the Commonwealth realms, countries where the British monarch is head of state.

She said she was “thrilled” for Elizabeth.

“She made a vow to serve her whole life when she became queen and she did,” said Campbell, who was dressed in a shirt with a sequined Union Jack flag. “She never, ever swerved. Her commitment was to the monarchy and she never wavered from it. … I know that many people have different feelings about the monarchy itself.”

Included in Bermuda. Burt said last week that Elizabeth’s “life and constancy in her service meant that whether we warmed to the idea of ​​monarchy or not, ‘The Queen’ was the most immovable feature on the world stage.”

Bermuda has a Crown-appointed governor, who represents the British monarch, and a parliament of elected legislators. As in other overseas territories, the UK is responsible for defence, security and foreign policy.

The islands were named after Juan de Bermúdez, the Spanish navigator who discovered them, uninhabited, in 1505. A century later, Sir George Somers, a British admiral, sailed the merchant ship Sea Venture to Jamestown with a group of colonists when they were caught in a treacherous storm and shipwrecked here. (The wreck is believed to have inspired Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”)

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In 1612, King James issued a charter to the investors of the Virginia Company of London that extended the boundary of their colony to Bermuda. Several dozen British colonists arrived and established a settlement in St. George, one of the oldest in the Western Hemisphere.

The Crown took over administration of the colony in 1684. Not long after settlement, colonists brought slaves to Bermuda, many of them transported through the Middle Passage from Africa. Slavery was abolished here in the 19th century, but black people continued to face segregation for more than a century afterwards.

Talk of independence here has long ebbed and flowed. In a referendum in 1995, around 73 percent of voters rejected a break with the crown.

Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda described independence as a “natural progression” for a modern democracy, but “The death of the monarch should not in itself be a trigger for Bermudians to strive for independence.”

“We have been settled since 1612, we have our own constitution, laws, traditions, currency and culture and frankly it is very difficult to see how being a colony or overseas territory benefits Bermuda in any tangible way,” the group said to Royal. Gazette newspaper.

Sandy Amott, 64, was born and raised in Bermuda with parents from England. She admired the Queen for her seven decades of service and was emotional when she learned of her death.

“In a way, I’m very sorry to be here today,” said Amott, a secretary. “I just thought she would live forever and I’m very sad. But rest in peace, Elizabeth, and long live the king.”

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