Adi Koila: Farewell, My Queen

For Adi Koila Ganilau, her short and sweet encounter with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the morning of October 31, 1982 was a moment she would cherish forever.
10 Sep 2022 11:57
Adi Koila: Farewell, My Queen
Adi Koila Ganilau as a six-year-old according the vakacobocobo as she acknowledged Queen Elizabeth II in 1982.

For Adi Koila Ganilau, her short and sweet encounter with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the morning of October 31, 1982 was a moment she would cherish forever.

Adi Koila is the eldest daughter of Adi Ateca Mara (daughter of the late Tui Nayau Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Lady Lala Mara) and Ratu Epeli Ganilau (son of the Late Tui Cakau Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau)

She was only six years old in 1982 when she was bestowed the honour of greeting the Queen Elizabeth with a bouquet of flowers.

It would be the Queen’s final official engagement to Fiji.

Following the news of Queen Elizabeth II’s death, Adi Koila relived the sweet moment.

Her Majesty The Queen died on Thursday at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.


“I remember that I had to get up so early because Sekita the Tongan lady who had her salon at the Suva Travelodge (holiday inn) had come over to braid my hair and then I had to get ready,” she said

“I remember being told that the Queen was a very important lady to us all and that my Nau Di Lala would be watching my every step. That was enough to make me perfect it,” Adi Koila said laughing.

She said she remembered being so nervous when she saw those who gathered that morning to receive Her Majesty the Queen.

“So I was given a chewing gum just to fix my nerves but to remember to give it to my mother before walking onto that mat.”

She said as a young girl she was used to accompanying her grandparents a lot and she felt the experience would be something similar.

“What made it feel different was that I was getting dressed up in my Fijian costume with all the beautiful smelling flowers, so I knew it was something different.”


Adi Koila said she remembered smiling from ear to ear all the while with two front teeth missing.

“My grandmother was coaching me how to smile while hiding that,” she laughed.

“I remember her saying ‘hello’.

“Her (Queen Elizabeth II) smile was so beautiful and I can still remember the smell of her perfume, like that of my grandmother which was Guerlain L’Heure Bleue.

“Two things got my attention that day was her scent and her lipstick.

“I was so nervous because I was trying to control how I would smile back without showing my missing teeth.

“I took three steps back, sat down and did the ‘vakacobocobo’ (clasp hands and clap three times – an iTaukei custom of acknowledgement).

“I quickly glanced at my grandmother who was smiling back at me rubbing her lips together as if to signal that my smile was getting bigger and bigger and I should quickly close it.

“I think the Queen saw my smile and chuckled a little saying ‘adorable’.

“And that was my encounter with my favourite monarch, an extraordinary, distinctive human being, one of my greatest icons.”



Adi Koila said she would remember the late Majesty as someone who was devoted to The Crown.

“Her famous quote was: ‘I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and to the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong’.

“She truly lived up it.”

“Remarkable, extraordinary woman. Extremely popular for nearly all of her long reign, she had a serious interest in government and political affairs, apart from her ceremonial duties, and is credited with modernizing many aspects of the monarchy.”

“I will remember her as the definition of obedience to God and Country and the definition of sacrifice as she devoted her life to The Crown.”

“A truly remarkable woman whom I had the privilege of meeting. Rest in Peace Her Royal Majesty.”



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