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Always in our hearts

Friday 9 September 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in National


Always in our hearts
Valentino Wichman receives the Queen’s Young Leaders Award from Queen Elizabeth in 2016. SUPPLIED/22090801

Cook Islands has joined the rest of the world to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II who died early yesterday at the age of 96.

Britain’s longest-reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II, who served with dignity and grace, and was a rock of stability across much of an unsettled century, died peacefully at her Scottish estate after 70 years on the throne.

Prime Minister Mark Brown addressed the nation yesterday afternoon acknowledging with “great sadness” the passing of “Our Queen and the Head of State of the Cook Islands”.

All flags in the country will be flown at half-mast until further notice, Brown announced, adding a Memorial Service will be held for Her Majesty at a date yet to be announced.

“All her people of the Cook Islands will mourn the passing of our Queen and will miss her greatly. I am sure that I share with all of our people the deep admiration and respect that we held for our Queen,” Brown said.

“Her Majesty leaves behind an enormous legacy of dedicated service to her subjects including ourselves, around the world.”

Queen Elizabeth’s reign spanned seven decades and saw her appoint fifteen British Prime Ministers during her tenure as Queen. As world leaders came and went – she endured and served her people, Brown said in his tribute.

“As the world changed around her, she endured and provided the strength and constancy for her people. And while her country may have lost a Queen, the world has lost a truly towering figure.”

e Minister Mark Brown addresses the nation yesterday afternoon. 22090820

Valentino Wichman, who received the Queen’s Young Leaders Award for supporting LGBTI+ rights in the Cook Islands in person from her Majesty in 2016, expressed condolences to the Royal Family.

“Kua tae mai te rongo ki te Ipukarea, e tumu rakau marumaru kua takupe.

“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be sadly missed by many including the anuanua community of the Cook Islands,” said Wichman.

“The Queen’s acknowledgement and support towards our community through decriminalisation and equality is a lasting legacy for future generations. May she rest in eternal love and peace.”

Anthony Brown, the official secretary to Queen’s Representative His Excellency Sir Tom Marsters, said the office would comment after a statement was released to the public.

A condolence book will be opened for members of the public to sign in the Cabinet Room at the Office of the Prime Minister. All are invited to sign the book which will be sent to Buckingham Palace.

With the death of Queen Elizabeth II, her eldest son and heir – Prince Charles – immediately became King Charles III. At 73, he is the oldest to ever assume the throne.

Prime Minister Brown will convey the country’s condolences to the Royal Family and congratulations to the new King.