“We feel an affinity for her,” said Alan Brooks, 67, a retail executive in Bermuda who served in the Royal Navy. “Every time there were special occasions in her life that we felt we should mark, we marked them…
“And unfortunately we are now marking the last event in her life.”
Those who gathered in the theater watched in mostly pin-drop silence. Some sang, softly, or hummed the hymns. Everyone stood for “God Save the King”.
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The governor of Bermuda declared Monday a public holiday here and many bars, restaurants and shops were closed. Governor Rena Lalgie and Prime Minister David Burt were in London for the funeral. Tanya Davis, Lalgie’s private secretary, said officials expected most Bermudians to attend the funeral at home. They had planned a service at the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity on September 24.
Elizabeth came to Bermuda several times. Her first visit was with Prince Philip in 1953, during her six-month tour of the Commonwealth after her coronation.
Kim Day, the executive committee chairman of the Bermuda Musical and Dramatic Society, has fond memories of a visit in 1994, when the Queen had a small talk with local Cub Scouts. Her son was one of them.
“I was about two feet from her,” Day recalls. “It was in the days before cell phones, so nobody took a really close-up photo, which is a real shame.”
The Bermuda Musical and Dramatic Society, an amateur theater founded in 1945, scheduled the funeral screening late last week. Jennifer Campbell, a Canadian who has lived in Bermuda since 2001, said some of its members resemble her: expatriates from the Commonwealth realms, countries where the British monarch is the head of state.
She said she was “impressed” with Elizabeth.
“She made a vow to serve all her life when she became queen and she did,” said Campbell, who was dressed in a shirt with a sequined Union Jack flag. “She never, ever floundered. Her devotion was to the monarchy, and she never deviated from it. … I know that many people have different feelings about the monarchy itself.”
Also in Bermuda. Burt said last week that Elizabeth’s “life and the steadfastness of her service meant that, whether we were fond of the idea of monarchy or not, ‘The Queen’ was the most immobile feature on the world stage.”
Bermuda has a Crown-appointed governor, who represents the British monarch, and a parliament of elected legislators. As in other overseas territories, Britain is responsible for defence, security and foreign policy.
The islands are named after Juan de Bermúdez, the Spanish navigator who discovered them uninhabited in 1505. A century later, Sir George Somers, a British Admiral, was sailing the merchant vessel Sea Venture to Jamestown with a group of settlers when they were caught in a treacherous storm and shipwrecked here. (The wreck is believed to have been the inspiration for Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”.)
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In 1612, King James issued a charter to the investors of the Virginia Company of London that extended the frontier of their colony to Bermuda. Several dozen British settlers arrived and established a settlement in St. George, one of the oldest in the Western Hemisphere.
The Crown took over administration of the colony in 1684. Not long after the settlement, settlers brought enslaved people to Bermuda, many of whom were transported from Africa via the Middle Passage. Slavery was abolished here in the 19th century, but blacks were subjected to segregation for more than a century afterwards.
Independence has been talked about here for a long time. In a 1995 referendum, about 73 percent of voters rejected a split with the Crown.
Citizens who uproot racism in Bermuda described independence as a “natural development” for a modern democracy, but “the death of the monarch in itself should not prompt Bermuda to pursue independence.”
“We’ve been settled since 1612, we have our own constitution, laws, traditions, currency and culture, and frankly it’s very hard to see how being a colony or overseas territory benefits Bermuda in any tangible way” , the group told the Royal Gazette newspaper.
Sandy Amott, 64, was born and raised in Bermuda with parents from England. She admired the Queen for her seven decades of service and was emotional when she learned of her death.
“In a way, I’m very sorry to be here today,” said Amott, a secretary. “I just thought she would live forever, and I’m very sad. But rest in peace, Elizabeth, and long live the king.’