A funny editorial in the Fiji Daily Post looks at the relevance of Betty Windsor in today's world. I wonder how many homes in Fiji still have old, tattered, newspaper portraits of England's royalty? How relevant are they now?
Truly, an amazing tradition
WHEN the Queen and her family sat down to breakfast yesterday, do you think she spared a thought that half a world away in far flung islands of the South Pacific, normality had been suspended for Tomasi of Tavua, for Leba of Labasa, for Mohammad of Navua and Dirend of Davuilevu so that along with the rest of their fellow citizens in a coup-affected banana republic such as Fiji, their affections, and those of the nation could be transfixed for twenty-four hours on the idea that they were blessed by the day that she was born? As her corgies perhaps looked on, would Elizabeth the Second have rejoiced that a working day in a beleaguered corner of the 180th meridian of her Commonwealth continued to be set aside so that its citizens could celebrate the fact that she, a monarch born 82 years ago in England, could in 2008, still hold sway over their lives?
Would the regent of Buckingham, Windsor and Balmoral have smiled with pleasure that no matter how coup-depleted our economy had become, no matter how difficult life was for the poor and struggling among us, no matter how preoccupied we were with restoring a just democracy, we could still afford to set aside one day in our calendar year to contemplate
Her Majesty’s importance and relevance to our national life?
While the Queen is undoubtedly a person of significance in the history of the British Empire, the Commonwealth, and Fiji, and undoubtedly a person whose birthdays deserve public acclamation among her ethnic and aristocratic kith and kin, we are a long way from the days described by poet laureate, Alfred, Lord Tennyson: ‘Son, be welded, each and all into one imperial whole, One with Britain, heart and soul! One life, one flag, one fleet, one Throne!’ A new world has entered Fiji’s consciousness since Ratu Sukuna promised the Great Council of Chiefs five decades ago that ‘we Fijians are a race of people who by tradition have always been accustomed to pay respect to the Throne’ and that ‘our loyalty and respect to our (new) Queen will continue steadfast as before’.
The question of just what the Queen represents in this day and age in this part of the world is moot. Her own British people are now part of the European Union. The orientation of her governments are less and less centered on how those who were once part of the greatest empire on the planet are faring. For most in the indigenous Pacific, the Queen is now, at best, a symbol of an interesting chapter of our history and a curious reminder of how deep, past affections and traditions can extend into this post-colonial, post-modern present. Many are glad, no doubt, for having another day off work, for another public holiday, but the cause for it in this republican era of Fiji’s independence will seem a tad contrived until Her Majesty’s abiding influence and mutual concern for our national political good can again be demonstrated.