Members of Antigua and Barbuda's armed forces participate in a parade for Britain's late Queen Elizabeth II in Saint John's on September 19, 2022

Antigua and Barbuda quietly bid farewell to Queen Elizabeth

Antigua and Barbuda troops participate in a parade honoring the late Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain in St. John’s on September 19, 2022 – Copyright AFP/File Yasuyoshi CHIBA

Antigua and Barbuda said goodbye to Queen Elizabeth on Monday during a service at the majestic cathedral, once considered a symbol of England’s power over its former Caribbean colony.

Fans buzzed in the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine and voices rang out in the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist as dignitaries, politicians and the military came to pay tribute to the late queen, who remained the tiny nation’s head of state after it became independent in 1981.

“We have come together to express our grief over the death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” Rev. Dean Duane Cassius told the congregation, who were mostly dressed in black.

“Grief is very capable of evoking both positive and negative emotions,” he continued. “We prefer to control our emotions.”

After the service, the country’s military personnel, armed with bayonets, took the national flag out of the cathedral overlooking the capital St. John’s, and then paraded through the streets to Government House.

The stave of the flag was topped with a golden crown, a clear demonstration of the place the monarchy occupies in the national ceremonial order.

That will soon change if Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who was in London on Monday for the Queen’s state funeral, gets his way.

Brown has said he intends to hold a referendum on whether to remove the British monarch as head of state of Antigua and Barbuda within three years, part of a wave of republicanism sweeping the Caribbean.

So far, the Anti-Guans have refrained from judging the issue. Monday was declared a public holiday in honor of the queen, and only a handful of people watched the parade on the almost deserted streets of the capital.

The demonstrators passed the Government House and again arrived at the cathedral, which has been rebuilt twice since the building was first erected here in 1681.

According to an excerpt from the memoirs of Antiguan worker Samuel Smith, published on the Antigua Nice website, the planters in the former slave colony called the cathedral a “great church” and, as a symbol of English power on the island, he inspired fear in people.

On Monday, the security forces stopped in front of the cathedral – then, with smiles and remarks about the heat, they relaxed and dispersed.

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