Press Release

Office of the Governor
Release Date:
Thursday, 24 March 2016 - 5:30pm

An oral tradition was reenacted today with a Salt Breaking and Gifting Ceremony held as the first official event to celebrate the 90th Birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Salt Island descendant, Ms. Elcine Durante, presented a gift of salt to the Premier of the Virgin Islands, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE, who then presented the salt to His Excellency the Governor, Mr. John S. Duncan, OBE as a gift to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in celebration of her 90th birthday.

The salt was harvested by Mr. Calvin Smith, a descendant of Salt Island. Local artist Mr. Aragorn Dick-Reid, manufactured the pouch which contained the salt. The screen print which shows the harvesting of salt forms the fore piece that was taken from a photograph of the late Clementine Smith, BEM (British Empire Medal) of Salt Island.   Symbols of the Virgin Islands heritage are also featured in the print and include the traditional Virgin Islands sloop, local houses, pristine beaches and birdlife.

His Excellency the Governor said he was pleased to be a part of efforts to revive this unique ceremony which speaks to the distinctive link between the Virgin Islands and the British Monarchy.  He added that the last ceremony of this kind was performed over 40 years ago.

Premier, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE, thanked the Governor for reviving this tradition and stated that the Territory’s heritage is tied to that of the United Kingdom’s. 

Premier Smith said, “We are a Territory, and in many other areas, the relationship between the United Kingdom and the BVI has served the BVI very well.”  The Premier shared that the Territory’s success in financial services and tourism are largely related to the United Kingdom and the British Law.

Premier Smith further added, “For many reasons it is important that we continue to appreciate the relationship between the British Virgin Islands and the United Kingdom Government.  The gifting of salt willingly helped to concrete that relationship.”

Descendants of Salt Islands rendered an item in song titled “Land of Our Birth, We Pledge to Thee” and an item of song was delivered by students of the Willard Wheatley Primary School.  His Excellency the Governor declared the Salt Pond open and the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force performed a Gun Salute.

Other activities planned in celebration of Her Majesty’s birthday include a grand parade with paramilitary organisations which will be immediately followed by the Official Queen’s Birthday Celebration on Thursday, April 21.  The cultural aspect of the Territory will be showcased during simultaneous Beacon Lighting Ceremonies to be held on Tortola, Anegada, Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda at 6:30 p.m.  During this time, the Territory’s youth will take centre stage and items of poetry, song and dance will be rendered.

A pictorial commemorative magazine capturing the life and reign of Her Majesty and her 1966 visit to the Territory, will be made available to the public at the official ceremony.  Other activities planned include a Souvenir Stamp and Coin Unveiling Ceremony. An essay competition will also be held for upper secondary schools, tertiary students and the public on the topic, “What Does Being British Mean to Me?”

 Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch in September 2015. The Queen is Head of State of the United Kingdom and 15 other Commonwealth realms.


Colene A. Penn

Head of Communications
Recovery and Development Agency
Tel: +1 (284) 345-2776 | Mobile: +1 (284) 345-3387