Oceania mourns passing of Queen Elizabeth II

Pacific leaders to attend state funeral

Oceania is mourning the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest-serving monarch at age 96.

Pacific Islands Forum Secretary-General Henry Puna said: “Her impact was intergenerational, and diverse. Such was her influence and visibility, that she was more known to people in the most remote reaches of our sea of islands, than our own national leaders! I know all parts of our Blue Pacific will be deeply saddened by this loss.”

In Nauru, President Lionel Aingimea declared Monday September 12 a special public holiday as ‘Remembrance Day’ in honour of Her Majesty.

“Nauru and the United Kingdom have enjoyed strong friendly relations over the years and more so when Her Majesty made the historical visit to Nauru in 1982 during her Royal Tour of the South Pacific. This was a key milestone that has been forged in the memories and lives of the Nauruan people. We stand in solidarity with the United Kingdom as we mourn the loss of Her Majesty the Queen. May God grant eternal peace and happiness to Her Majesty in His heavenly abode,” Aingimea said.

Papua New Guinea Governor-General Sir Bob Dadae said the Queen played a pivotal role in unifying PNG. “Throughout her life, she has stayed the course and was true to her promise to dedicate her life to the service of the Commonwealth,” he said.

PNG prime minister James Marape announced that there will be no official Government Business conducted during the length of the mourning period over the next 10 days. Both PNG leaders departed for England yesterday to attend the State Funeral.

Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown said he will be also attending the State Funeral. PM Brown on Thursday said all flags in the country will be flown at half-mast until further notice and a Memorial Service will be held for Her Majesty at a date yet to be announced.

The Tongan King’s Private Secretary Sione Fifita also confirmed that King Tupou VI is scheduled to depart Tonga on Thursday, September 15 to represent Tonga at the State Funeral.

Meanwhile, Peni Vuiyale, a 21-year-old Fijian soldier serving in the British Army, was one of the few to be chosen as a pallbearer for the late monarch.

Photos of Vuiyale were posted Monday on the British Royal Facebook page and by multiple news agencies, showing him and others carrying the casket of Her Majesty the late Queen.

Vuiyale’s dad, Semi Tubuna, said his son is not only making his family proud but also his country.

“I was so happy and excited to find out that he was chosen to be a pallbearer. I’m touched that he is not only doing his family proud but his country. What’s amazing about this is the fact there are thousands of soldiers and he is one of a handful to be selected,” Tubuna said.

The State Funeral of Her Majesty The Queen will take place at Westminster Abbey on Monday, September 19, 2022.