Cayman rolled out the red carpet for royalty Saturday morning, when it celebrated the official 93rd birthday of Queen Elizabeth II with warmth and symbolic pomp and circumstance.
The day began with a dress parade in front of the Legislative Assembly and later continued with a garden party at Government House complete with a surprise musical guest.
Governor Martyn Roper, celebrating the Queen’s and also his own birthday, showed off his newfound skills on the steel pan thanks to an assist from renowned master Earl La Pierre.
“I think it’s been wonderful,” said Governor Roper of the day’s events. “I was so pleased this morning, because it’s the first time I’ve seen that ceremony. I thought it was a fantastic ceremony and to see everybody marching from all our services was just wonderful. I was delighted with it.”
Representatives from Cayman’s police, fire and prison services all took part in the parade, as did a detachment of Cayman’s scouts, cadets and a group from the Girls’ Brigade.
The parade went down Fort Street and back to the Legislative Assembly, and Governor Roper walked up and down each row and spoke to members of each contingent.
Restmin ‘Nellie’ Elaine McCoy was awarded the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour for her decades of dedicated service to the Mosquito Research and Control Unit, and three Caymanians – Shanice Kelly, Chauntae Martinez and Syrena Powell – were granted the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.
The day then continued with a garden party at Government House, and Governor Roper stepped forward to speak to the assembled guests and say a few words about Queen Elizabeth II.
“She really is such a remarkable woman,” he said. “This week, not only has she hosted a state visit by President [Donald] Trump, who may not be the easiest head of state to receive on a state visit, she’s also had the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. And today she had her own Trooping the Colour celebration for her birthday. She really is a remarkable lady and I know we all want to recognise that.”
Governor Roper went on to speak about the recent visit to Cayman of Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who were briefly his house guests at Government House.
“I was so pleased with that visit. It was a huge success,” said Governor Roper. “I know that it really strengthened the bonds between the Cayman Islands and the UK. The Royal Highnesses stayed at Government House. They really loved Government House. Both of them managed to swim in the sea. We allowed them about 10 minutes because the programme was really busy.”
The assembled guests also celebrated Governor Roper’s birthday on Saturday, and he stepped behind the steel pans to perform versions of ‘Yellow Bird’ and ‘Chariots of Fire’ with La Pierre’s Pandemix band. La Pierre came to visit Governor Roper at Government House about a month ago to teach him the steel pans, and the governor practised twice with the full band at University College of the Cayman Islands.
“The governor did excellent,” said La Pierre. “He’s one of those students that you want to come and teach because he was willing. He was never like, ‘Oh, this is too hard.’ I had fun, and he had fun too. And that makes my job so easy when your student or the governor is interested and having fun.”