The Diamond of Africa celebrated the Diamond Queen this weekend. Events on the ground in the Commonwealth nation may have been few, but President Hifikepunye Pohamba led Namibia’s contingent to Britain to celebrate the 60th year of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign over many nations of the Commonwealth. While Namibia remains a presidential republic, many including Pohamba were happy to celebrate with Britain.
Elizabeth was only 26 years old in 1952 when she became Queen. At the time of her father, George VI’s death she was with her husband Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, at her Kenyan home, called Sagana Lodge. The plan had been to tour Kenya followed by Australia and New Zealand. Instead she returned home to be crowned in 1953.
She has since reigned through troubled times in the United Kingdom and has seen the British Empire break up as different nations won their independence. Many such as Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand and Australia retain the Queen as their head of state. In fact votes on the subject of republicanism usually find her extremely popular still in those countries. During this time the Commonwealth of Nations, as the British Commonwealth is now known post-Empire, has become a larger and stronger collection of countries.
This connection was on Pohamba’s mind as he left for Britain on Sunday morning for London to take his part in the celebrations. He, like other commonwealth leaders, however, had played an important part in 2011, with the formation of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust. Chaired by Sir John Major, often thought to be the Queen’s favourite Prime Minister, the Trust is raising money for people and causes across the Commonwealth.
President Pohamba has celebrated Namibia’s close ties to Queen Elizabeth II and Britain; both as the heads of states meet and as part of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. He has praised the Queen’s legacy on leadership, being close to the people and attentive to nature. Above all, he has praised the honourable way she has conducted herself over 60 years.
In Britain there has been a four day celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Namibia has not been absent from this. On Sunday a flotilla of 1,000 boats and ships paraded down the River Thames through London finishing at Tower Bridge. Among these were boats carrying every flag of the Commonwealth, including Namibia’s.
The people of the Commonwealth celebrated in many ways. Sure the biggest celebrations were to be had in London, with 6 million turning out for street parties and over one million each for the river pageant and the parade. Across the globe members of the Commonwealth from Tonga to the Falkland Islands lit beacons to mark 60 years.
Imogen Reed is a freelance journalist based in the UK