MPs pay tribute to queen

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The national flag was flown at half-mast at the Red House, Abercromby Street, Port of Spain, on Friday, as sign of respect to the passing of Elizabeth II on Thursday. – JEFF K MAYERS

MEMBERS of the House of Representatives followed the lead of their counterparts in Britain’s House of Commons on Friday and paid glowing tribute to Queen Elizabeth II.

The queen, 96, died at her royal estate in Balmoral, Scotland on Thursday.

Acting prime minister Colm Imbert led off the tributes. Imbert said Trinidad and Tobago joined the rest of the world in mourning the queen’s death and extending condolences to the royal family (including her successor King Charles III) and the British people.

For more than two generations, he continued, the British people have known only one sovereign.

“She was their one constant in a rapidly evolving world, and many have not known a world without her.”

Imbert said evidence of this lay in the fact that the queen saw the installation of 15 British prime ministers, starting with Sir Winston Churchill and ending with Liz Truss, two days before her death.

Acknowledging the absence of the Prime Minister, who is currently in Europe on state business, which included a meeting with British Petroleum executives in London on Thursday, Imbert said, “Today we speak with one voice in the language of grief and loss as we reflect on the contribution made by her majesty the Queen.”

Dominating global politics for over 70 years, Imbert said, the queen’s leadership provided the platform for the “creation of the modern Britain.” Recalling that she assumed the throne at 25, after the death of her father, King George VI, in 1952, Imbert said the queen “navigated some of the last and this century’s most challenges.”

These included the covid19 pandemic and Brexit, which saw Britain leave the European Union on January 31, 2020.

Through these and other tumultuous events, Imbert said, the queen was always “the epitome of grace and enduring calm that earned her many plaudits and admirers.”

Noting her commitments to serve the UK and the Commonwealth never wavered with age or health, Imbert recalled the queen’s visits to TT in 1966, 1985 and 2009 (when TT hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting – CHOGM)

As a cabinet minister in the then Patrick Manning administration, Imbert had fond memories of that visit. He disclosed that many people did not know the queen “was an ardent admirer of our steelband and insisted that the TT Defence Force Steel Orchestra play at her recently concluded (diamond) jubilee celebrations.”

He said images of the queen smiling at the orchestra’s performance of Abba’s Dancing Queen during those celebrations are etched in the minds of millions of people worldwide forever.

That song, Imbert continued, “was a fitting tribute to a monarch who celebrated the culture of every Commonwealth nation.”

He said the queen had created something that will live forever.

“Queen Elizabeth II created a model of leadership that is more than worthy of our emulation.”

Imbert said condolence books will be available in the rotunda of the Red House and at the Foreign and Caricom Affairs Ministry for people who wish to write their condolences.

“At the appropriate time, we will advise on the other ways, if necessary, TT will mourn the passing of her royal majesty Queen Elizabeth II.”

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar remembered meeting the queen at the 2011 CHOGM in Australia when she was prime minister. She said the queen was an inspiration to women and girls worldwide.

“Today, as women across the globe traverse the halls of power in every field, we can all say that Queen Elizabeth II stood as one of the early pioneers to inspire young girls across the globe to believe that not only could women equal men at the helm, but they can lead them.”

Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George agreed with Imbert and Persad-Bissessar about the queen’s legacy to the world. She remembered being amongst the many gleeful schoolchildren who were in Port of Spain when she visited TT in 1966.

“The queen fulfilled this role with great humility and, I can’t help but note, with stylish elegance. Her legacy for me evidences that concomitant with privilege are service, duty, responsibility and restraint.”

Before MPs stood to observe a minute of silence in the queen’s memory, Annisette-George said her life was an example that TT’s current leaders and those who aspire to lead should follow.