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“God Save The Queen”

As I watched and listened to the National Anthem of Great Britain being played as British soldiers who have died in the war with Iraq were taken out of a plane, I could not help but feel sadness not only as a human being, but also as one who still feels “British”. You see, twenty five years ago all of us in Belize pledged sincere allegiance to Great Britain in many ways.

First of all we sang the national anthem of Great Britain at all required occasions. We sang it first thing in the morning as we lined up to get into school. We sang it at all public functions like the parade for September 10, or the Miss San Pedro Beauty Pageant. In fact up until 1981 this used to be our national anthem of Belize because we were a British colony. Not only that, we also paraded with the Union Jack, the British flag, at all occasions. The words of the anthem are still fresh in my mind:

God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the Queen!

Thy choicest gifts in store,
On her be pleased to pour,
Long may she reign!
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause,
To sing with heart and voice,
God save the Queen!

Another way that we felt very much British 25 years ago was the fact that we had a British Governor representing the queen and when he visited San Pedro, it was the highest honor, even higher than the visit of the Premier of Belize, Mr. George Price. The visit of the British Governor meant putting on our best clothing (and shoes), and lining up at the foot of the main pier to welcome the governor. We sang the “God save the Queen”, and then got a holiday from Sir Peter Stallard, who was governor when I was in primary school. He came to San Pedro aboard the government boat, The Lollette, dressed in full white with helmet and all.

Another attachment we felt with the British was the fact that after independence in 1981, the British army and air force was very strong in Belize and we got a sense of protection and security from them. We loved their presence in Belize.

Today, I have been decorated with the medal, Member of the British Empire and indeed I still feel a strong sense of allegiance to the Queen of Great Britain. This feeling, I am sure, is felt by many folks who grew up under the protection of Great Britain in the 1950’s through 70’s. Today, even though we sing and rejoice with the new words of the song “Lands of the Free”, the “God save the Queen” is still special, because we grew up with it and it is embedded in our spirit.

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