By Lucy Craymer
WELLINGTON (Reuters) – The entire population of the Pitcairn Islands – 35 permanent residents – will make the Pacific Ocean territory the last place in the Commonwealth to light a beacon as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebration later Thursday.
The beacon, which came on the last supply ship to the islands six weeks ago, will be lit during a dinner everyone in Pitcairn will most likely attend and contribute to, said Colin Leeman, administrator of the British Overseas Territory.
“This is what the community does to celebrate the significant events – they see a close relationship with the British Crown,” Leeman told Reuters. To mark the occasion the island’s generator, which powers all of Pitcairn and normally turns off at 9:15 p.m., will run for an extra hour or so to allow for more festivities.
The British colony is mostly populated by descendants of crew from the ship the Bounty, who settled there with Tahitian wives after a legendary 18th century mutiny on the high seas. The rocky outcrop, 5,500 kilometres from New Zealand, hosted the late Prince Philip in 1971 when he sailed the royal yacht across the Pacific.
Leeman said that dessert at the celebration would be a Pitcairn take on the Platinum Jubilee Trifle.
Canned mandarins were substituted for fresh local citrus, the amaretto substituted for vanilla in the biscuits (which Leeman was responsible for baking and had burnt twice). Leeman said the island was a little short on cream and had no white chocolate.
Charlene Warren, the islands’ mayor, said she had written a short speech and expected some singing.
“She is our queen, and so it’s actually an honour to be able to celebrate her life,” Warren said.
The island also has plans to plant a tree as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy issue – a coconut, a palm or a breadfruit tree.
“It’s a live issue,” Leeman said.
(Reporting by Lucy Craymer. Editing by Gerry Doyle)