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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Editorial September 9th 2022

Welcome to this week’s editorial,

In February 1974 I stood, with the rest of my school, on the edge of Boroko Drive in Port Moresby and waved as the Queen, Prince Philip, Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips drove by. The Royal detour was an odd one in that it left the highway and meandered through the back streets. Thinking about the route today it was an intentional detour to take in five schools which pretty much guaranteed an avenue of children waving and cheering.

There was a buzz around the town that the Queen was visiting and I hadn’t seen Moresby so clean in decades. Betal nut stains were washed off buildings, garbage was picked up, streets were swept clean and the place looked spick and span.

Following the drive-by the Queen attended her appointments ahead of the next day that saw her attend a welcome sing-sing at Herbert Murray Oval. It was a grand affair and the stadium was packed. I was there with the school and my father was there with his hot-dog cart. Also making a ‘killing’ were the Jepperson’s selling ‘Mi lukim Missus Kwin’ (I saw the Queen) tshirts.

What you may not know, and few do, is that Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II became Queen of Papua New Guinea and the Head of State when PNG gained Independence and joined the Commonwealth of nations.

The Queen’s 1974 visit wasn’t just a box ticking exercise. She was there to meet Chief Minister, Michael Somare and discuss Papua New Guinea's likelihood of joining the Commonwealth after independence. Her visit was a Royal one with a Royal entourage, looking to measure the country, its future and how the Royal family might fit in.

It was evident from her visit that she was genuinely respected by the people of PNG. So much so that in all her duties relating to Papua New Guinea, she speaks and acts as its Queen, and not as Queen of the United Kingdom. Unlike Australia, the Queen was recognised as Queen of PNG because the PNG people actually invited her to become their head of state. There is little doubt that King Charles the Third will be declared, by default, King of PNG.

I remember the news at the time of the Queen’s first visit to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. In 1974 the country was still coming of age. In the main towns there was industry, education, health and hopes for a modern future while in the more remote corners were villages just one generation removed from having never encountered the West. Arse-grass, penis gourds, pig grease raincoats, possum capes and wild bird plumage. I attended the Mount Hagen Show in late 1974. The Mt Hagen Cultural Show is one of the largest annual cultural events held in Papua New Guinea that showcases the incredible diversity of dance, costumery and custom of the nation.

A venture into the dance contest grounds is a venture back in time. To be surrounded by fully armed, highly decorated, warriors running mock battle charges and threat dancing is an experience you never forget. The stifling humidity, the overwhelming smell of bodies smeared with pig grease and the sounds of full voice battle song with a pulse of kundu drum that reverberates through your body is a memory that never leaves you. But within those memories of that sing-sing I remember seeing one of Bernie Jepperson’s t-shirts on a happy Chimbu toddler that read ‘Mi lukim Missus Kwin’.

Today, sadly, the Queen of Papua New Guinea is gone. She was their Queen. One they chose, and one they loved.


In hindsight I should have bought one of those T-Shirts. If I had I would wear it today to proudly declare, ‘Mi lukim Missus Kwin’.


Until next

lei

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NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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