St Helena Online

Tag: Diamond Jubilee

Vexillologists vexed as UK fails to fly the flag for territories

Flags hang from masts at the Trooping of the Colour, with soldiers parading beneath them
Flags of St Helena and other UK islands ‘will fly at state occasions,’ says FCO. Picture by hapticflapjack/flickr

There’s been a bit of a flap on in the corridors of Whitehall, over a broken promise to Britain’s overseas territories.

When the UK government announced that the flags of islands such as St Helena were to be flown at state occasions, it was seen as a way of signifying their importance to the mother country.

St Helena flag - blue with the union flag in one corner, and a shield on the right showing a wirebird and a sailing ship approaching the island
St Helena’s flag

They were meant to flap happily alongside the flags of Commonwealth nations at the Jubilee celebrations and the Trooping of the Colour – but come the day, they weren’t there.

This did not go down well in the office of Andrew Rosindell MP, Parliament’s chief vexillologist (noun: a person who knows about flags).

And Foreign Minister Henry Bellingham, who makes frequent speeches about how much the territories matter to Britain, was cross.

With a White Paper expected this week, setting out the UK government’s plans for a stronger relationship with the territories, the timing was not good.

The absence of the flags at the Trooping the Colour celebration – marking the Queen’s official birthday – was reported to St Helena Online by a source in the diplomatic community.

The crest of the Parliamentary flags group features a lion waving a flag (screen grab)
MPs have their own flag-waving group

“We were furious,” said the source. “I guess it’s a victim of the Jubilee. They left the Union Jacks up along The Mall, so I suppose they didn’t have enough flag poles.”

The real reason was less exciting, according to the chap in the office of Andrew Rosindell MP, who put forward the flag-waving idea. Mr Rosindell chairs the all-party groups in Parliament for both the overseas territories and – yes – flags.

Starbuck Coleman said: “We understand there was a procurement problem, in that the factory and what-not could not provide the appropriate flags in time.

“Andrew spoke to the minister: they are both very annoyed.

“It’s a shame. They were meant to be ready for the Diamond Jubilee weekend. We are very frustrated by it but it’s one of those things.”

A missive from the FCO press office confirms Starbuck’s version of events. It says:

“We have agreed with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport [DCMS], who lead on flag flying, that the flags of the overseas territories and Crown dependencies will be flown on future ceremonial occasions.

“We want to raise awareness of the territories in the UK. This will be an effective way of demonstrating the importance of the territories.

“We regret that we were not able to procure the necessary flags and flagpoles successfully in time for this summer’s events.”

Oddly, the Department of Communities had no trouble getting hold of a Falkland Islands flag when it needed one.

The South Atlantic Remote Territories Media Association (Sartma) reports that it flew the flag outside its Whitehall headquarters on the 30th anniversary of the island’s liberation from Argentinian occupation.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has decreed that all the overseas territories are to be similarly recognised by the DCMS on significant days, says Sartma.

“Mr Pickles has asked for the flags of the territories – from Anguilla to the Turks and Caicos Islands – to be proudly flown by the Department as part of a formal recognition of the continued important and close relationship with the country. This follows from a programme of flying England’s county flags last year.”

What special occasions will be marked for the other South Atlantic islands, one wonders? St Helena Day, obviously; and for Tristan da Cunha, how about Ratting Day? And the flag of Ascension – “a souped-up labour camp”, as ex-governor Andrew Gurr described it recently – will presumably be flown on Pay Day.

Territories athlete makes a leap for Olympic glory

Come the 2012 Olympics, “the importance of the territories” may make a leap into the public conscious in London.

If Shara Proctor wins the gold medal for Britain in August, she could make her lap of honour draped in the flag of one of its Caribbean territories.

Shara, from Anguilla, is seen as one of Britain’s best medal prospects – even though the Telegraph has revealed that, as of 23 June 2012, she has yet to set foot in England.

Her story illustrated the level of ignorance about the territories in the UK, with one newspaper wrongly branding her as one of several “plastic Brits” who would be competing for Britain despite not really being British. Anguillans, who are every bit as British as Saints and Falkland Islanders, were outraged.

Shara has said that if she wins a medal for Britain, in her heart, it will be for Anguilla.

Island flags ‘will be flown’ at state occasions

Pickles flies the flag for territories – Sartma
London 2012 Olympics: Shara Proctor – The Telegraph
The Flags Institute (includes all overseas territories flags)
Shara Proctor jumps for Britain – Anguillan News

Funeral is held after Tristan da Cunha beach tragedy

The Tristan da Cunha website reports that the funeral has taken place of the islander who was swept to his death at the start of the Queen’s Jubilee weekend.

Barry Swain was caught by a wave while crossing a beach on 2 June 2012. Jubilee commemorations two days later were toned down, and a dance was cancelled.

The 26-year-old was found on 5 June. A funeral was held the next day, but not reported immediately.

The website’s UK-based editor, Richard Grundy, writes:

“Tristan da Cunha is a close-knit family community, and so this tragedy has had a huge effect on Islanders, who remain in mourning. Personal information is only released after liaison with and permission from island families. Our thoughts are with those families at this difficult time.”

Tristan da Cunha website



Jamestown’s Jubilee jamboree – in words and pictures

Words and pictures: St Helena Government

St Helena joined other UK Overseas Territories and countries around the world to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with a weekend of celebrations.

First was the annual Garden Party at the Governor’s residence, Plantation House, to mark the Queen’s Birthday, where around 300 invited guests assembled in glorious weather to enjoy eats and drinks.

His Excellency, Governor Capes, gave a speech and also presented awards to staff members in recognition of their contributions to the public service.

The big event of the weekend took place on Monday 4 June on the Grand Parade in the capital, Jamestown, where the theme for the day was a traditional “village Fair”, with stalls selling everything from food and drink to jewellery and souvenirs. Members of the public turned out in the national colours of red, white and blue, in blazing sunshine.

The day began with the gathering of all island contingents, including the Scouts, Guides, Brownies and Rainbows, for an inter-denominational service and official opening ceremony.

During the ceremony Governor Capes presented 54 Diamond Jubilee medals to personnel from the St Helena emergency services in recognition of their service to the people of St Helena and the United Kingdom.

The celebrations continued throughout the day, with orchestral light music, a treasure hunt, folk music, line dancing, novelty sports, the Jacob’s Ladder Challenge, and a firework display in the evening.

A Little Miss and Miss Diamond Jubilee Contest also took place with 23 young girls between the ages of 4 and 15 years taking part to win the crown.  Royalty-themed floats decorated in the red, white and blue colours of the Union Flag also paraded through the streets of Jamestown in the afternoon.

The highlight of the day was the lighting of the beacons, when St Helena joined the rest of the Overseas Territories and the Commonwealth, lighting five beacons around the island to form a Diamond shape. Governor Capes lit the first beacon on top of the arch on the Grand Parade at 7pm local time (8pm UK time).

Musical entertainment then carried on into the evening.

Governor Capes said:

“The Diamond Jubilee celebrations in this most loyal of British Overseas Territories underlined the great affection for Her Majesty among the people of St Helena. It was tremendous to see young and old, side by side, taking part in making this a happy and memorable occasion.”

Beach tragedy overshadows Tristan jubilee commemorations
St Helena Day ‘best to date’, says Nick

St Helena Online wishes readers a great Jubilee weekend

(This story is being left online for archival reasons. However, a beach tragedy on Tristan da Cunha has meant that the weekend’s commemoration of the jubilee was “muted”, according to the website).

While Saints are dancing down the street on the day of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations on 4 June, islanders on Tristan da Cunha will be firing a 21-gun salute and holding a service of thanksgiving.

The editor of this website is taking a few days off (and will be catching up with Johnny Clingham at Chippenham folk festival in the UK).

Pictures of the St Helena celebrations will appear on the Saint FM Facebook page, here.  Pictures of the Tristan celebrations will appear on the island website “as the events take place” – click here for updates.

St Helena Government has issued the following press release:

This weekend, the UK’s Overseas Territories, like many other countries around the world, will be marking the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee by lighting Beacons. They will join the Beacon lighting across the UK, continuing a tradition, first started to communicate but now carried out as a symbol of unity. The Queen will light the last Beacon of the day at the end of the BBC concert which will take place at the front of Buckingham Palace.

The island of Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic Ocean, with only 262 inhabitants, will have the world’s most remote Beacon, and Saint Helena will be lighting five Beacons to form a diamond shape. Montserrat, whose capital, Plymouth, was destroyed by the Soufriere Hills Volcano eruption in 1995 will be lighting their Beacon in the new capital, Little Bay. This will be a double celebration, both of the Jubilee and also of the progress made on the island since the volcano.

The celebrations will light up the world, with Beacons lit in the Overseas Territories in the Pacific, Atlantic, Southern and Indian Oceans and the Caribbean Sea.

As well as the beacons, several Overseas Territories’ leaders are travelling to the UK to take part in the London Diamond Jubilee celebrations this weekend. This includes the Thames River Pageant where the ‘Sapele’ will fly all the flags of the Overseas Territories and a dinghy will be sailed by Sea Cadets from Bermuda.  Leaders will also attend the BBC concert at Buckingham Palace, where they will be able to sample British food from hampers designed by Heston Blumenthal and listen to live music from British and Commonwealth artists. Representatives of the Overseas Territories will also attend the Thanksgiving Service at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Foreign Office Minister, Henry Bellingham, said of the Overseas Territories’ involvement;

“We are delighted that so many of the Overseas Territories are celebrating the Diamond Jubilee with events both in London and the Territories.  The fact that the Overseas Territories are playing such a full role is recognition of their close relationship with the Queen and the UK. Involving them in the Diamond Jubilee celebrations is part of our strategy of reinvigorating our relationship with the Overseas Territories”.

Tristan lights up for the Diamond Jubilee (with comment)
Royal honour for 120 islanders
Heads win every time with Ascension’s jubilee coin
Falklands join global Jubilee celebrations (Mercopress)

Heads win every time with Ascension’s jubilee coin

Ascension's £5 coin showing two heads of the Queen, side by sideIf the person at the bar suggests calling heads or tails to decide who pays for the drinks, just make sure they’re not holding the new Ascension Island £5 coin.

It’s got heads on both sides.

And not only that, but one side has not just the Queen’s head, as usual, but two of them: one as Her Majesty appears on coins today, and one as she was depicted at the start of her 60-year reign.

The departure from convention is permitted because the coin has been struck to mark the Diamond Jubilee, which is being celebrated around the world – including in the South Atlantic – on 4 June 2012.

It’s not just the unique double-headed face that has got numismatists excited, according to Michael Alexander, writing on the Coin Update website.

“This stunning new coin,” he says, “features a side portrait of the Queen wearing St Edward’s Crown, with the highest relief that has ever been produced on a coin.”

The high-relief image of the Queen on the Ascension coinThat means the head stands out from the flat background. Such high-relief engraving is usually reserved for medallions, rather than coins. “The technique, which requires a greater degree of striking pressure, results in a design which appears much sharper and more detailed.”

As with so many things marking either the Diamond Jubilee or the London Olympics, a numerical pun is involved: exactly 2,012 of the coins are being issued in silver, and another 1,952 in gold (to mark the Queen’s accession on 6 February 1952).

And now, a true story.

A friend of this website paid £80 for a fifty pence coin that had heads on both sides. He was a magician, and proposed to use the coin in a trick one evening. By the time he arrived at the venue, he was more than a little upset. On his way to the gig, he’d stopped at the village pub to calm his nerves, and had spent his £80 coin on a pint of lager.

He did not say, “Flip”.

Island prepares to join Queen’s diamond jubilation

Pobjoy Mint
Ascension’s jubilee coin – Coin Update

Island prepares to join Queen’s diamond jubilation

Official jubilee beacon logo - a flame graphic

A diamond of light will shine out from St Helena when the island joins worldwide celebrations of the Queen’s 60 years on the British throne.

Five Jubilee beacons that have been despatched to the island will be the “most remote” of 2,012 that will be lit at the end of a day of festivities on 4 June.

The remaining 2,007 beacons will be set up across the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, the Commonwealth and other British Overseas Territories.

St Helena's jubilee poster, with union flagsThe last to be lit will be ignited by the Queen herself in London.

Mike Dean, Tourism Development Executive for St Helena, says: “We are looking forward to welcoming the beacons and playing a part in the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations.

“Even though we will be the most remote destination to be part of the occasion, there is a strong sense of patriotism and festive spirit.”

The St Helena beacons will be set up at points around the island to form a diamond shape.

Island flags ‘will be flown’ at Queen’s birthday parades

Official Diamond Jubilee beacons website