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Adi Sofia Recalls Meeting The Queen And The Duke In 1970s

Like many people who had the honour of meeting the late Queen Elizabeth II, Adi Sofia Kanaimawi cherishes the memories of her interaction with the British monarch.
10 Sep 2022 14:51
Adi Sofia Recalls Meeting The Queen And The Duke In 1970s
Sofi Kanaimawai with pictures of Queen Elizabeth II’s Royal visit to Suva and Labasa, which she was part of in 1977. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Like many people who had the honour of meeting the late Queen Elizabeth II, Adi Sofia Kanaimawi cherishes the memories of her interaction with the British monarch.

One particular memory she highlighted was when she heard the queen’s late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip say: “You brought the Sunshine.”

On Friday, 79-year-old, Adi So­fia unearthed some pictures of the late queen during her visit to Fiji nearly 50 years ago. It is a memory she holds dear and a tale she often shares with her grand­children.

Adi Sofia was the wife of the late Ratu Epeli Kanaimawi, a for­mer senior civil servant who had served in seven ministries before he retired in 1983 at the age of 45.

“In 1976 my late husband trav­elled to the United States for an anniversary celebration and upon his return, he was posted to Labasa as commissioner where this event took place,” Adi Sofia said.

“In 1976 when my late husband and I were in Labasa, we were told that Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and the Duke of Ed­inburgh were on their silver ju­bilee tour and would travel to the Northern Division.

“We prepared for many months, and it was hard work, hardly any sleep. We had to travel around to select the meke (traditional dance) from Wailevu, and the Ba­naba’s from Rabi to be part of the celebration.

“All I was involved in was the preparation, from the women’s side, and we had to organise for the Tagimoucia for our daughter to present to the queen; we enter­tained them and we also had af­ternoon tea with them.”

In 1996 Adi Sofia and her hus­band were invited to go to Buck­ingham Palace for the centennial celebration of the Victorian Or­der.

“We had our tent next to the roy­al tent. The royals passed all the tents and stopped with us,” she said.

“The queen said, ‘I noticed that there are some Fijians here!’”

Adi Sofi said that they were blessed with the visit by the queen in the 70s as well as the invitation to Britain and the centennial cel­ebration at Buckingham Palace.

“She was so warm and accept­ing. For myself, from a small country and yet they took time to talk to us,” she said.

She said she felt blessed to have met Queen Elizabeth, talked to her and shook hands with her and her husband.

“We shall miss her voice, her messages that she shared with the world. She had a heart of gold. We have lost somebody so pre­cious and who has done so much for Fiji,” she said.

 

Feedback: viliame@fijisun.com.fj



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