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Commonwealth lights beacons

4 June 2012
Commonwealth countries are first to light beacons celebrating HM Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee as Head of the Commonwealth

Beacons have been lit in Commonwealth countries to mark HM Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee as Head of the Commonwealth.

On Monday, 4 June 2012, a network of more than 4,000 beacons were ignited by communities in the Commonwealth, UK Overseas Territories, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

The first country to light a beacon was Tonga in the Pacific.

According to ITV News, Tongan Scouts and Girl Guides used traditional coconut sheath torches to light their country's beacon.

In New Zealand a crowd of people saw a beacon being lit in Blenheim, Marlborough, New Zealand.

In Australia, Prime Minister Julia Gillard lit a beacon at Parliament House in Canberra. The ceremony was attended by Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbot MP, Scouts, Guides and students, reported ITV News.

“These beacons glowing around the world symbolise one family across a wide world, the family of the Commonwealth nations, rich in their diversity but united now in admiration of the unstinting service of the Queen,” said Ms Gillard.

Over in Africa, a beacon was ignited at The Treetops Hotel in the Aberdare national park, Kenya. The Queen was staying at the hotel when she acceded to the throne after her father George VI died in 1952.

At the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP) Africa Centre in Lusaka, Zambia, CYP Africa Regional Director James Odit lit a beacon at an event officiated by Zambia Vice-President Dr Guy Scott and British High Commissioner to Zambia James Thornton.

The event was attended by Commonwealth high commissioners accredited to Zambia, senior government officials, diplomats, young people and the Zambian community.

The CYP Pacific Centre in Solomon Islands jointly hosted a Diamond Jubilee event with the Office of the Governor-General and the Solomon Islands Scouts Association in Honiara.

Prime Minister of Solomon Islands Gordon Darcy Lilo; the acting Governor-General; Solomon Islands Minister for Forestry and former Prime Minister, Sir Allan Kemakeza; government ministers; and diplomatic representatives attended an official ceremony.

Young people from schools and the Solomon Islands Scouts Association and the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force and its band led a colourful parade.

Sir Allan launched a photographic exhibition of images depicting a history of the Royal Family’s visits to Solomon Islands.

A beacon, constructed by the local Honiara Scout group, was lit on a hill overlooking Lawson Tama Stadium.

Sir Allan began by lighting dried vegetation from the bottom of the hill, which then glided up the hillside timed to ignite the bonfire at exactly 10 pm.

The celebrations continued into the evening with a Thanksgiving Service for Her Majesty, followed by energetic traditional island dancing from various cultural groups from Malaita, Rennell and Bellona provinces as well as from local Honiara groups.

The Queen lit the last beacon on the Mall in London, UK.

>> Watch and read about the Commonwealth boats on display at the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant.

>> Watch and read about the Commonwealth Stage at the Jubilee Family Festival on 2 June 2012.

Keep up to date with Commonwealth-related Diamond Jubilee events through our website, Facebook, Flickr and Twitter.

We also welcome your stories. Send us photos, videos and comments on Diamond Jubilee celebrations in your region of the Commonwealth to [email protected] or message us on Facebook and we’ll feature a selection.